WASHINGTON—The Justice Department today announced that Najibullah Zazi, 24, a resident of Aurora, Colo., and legal permanent resident of the United States from Afghanistan, has been indicted in the Eastern District of New York on a charge of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction (explosive bombs) against persons or property in the United States.
FBI agents in Colorado first arrested Zazi on Sept. 19, 2009 pursuant to a criminal complaint charging him with knowingly and willfully making false statements to the FBI in a matter involving international and domestic terrorism. Zazi made an initial court appearance on those charges in the District of Colorado on Sept. 21, 2009. The government will ask that those charges be dismissed and that Zazi be transferred to New York to face this new charge.
Yesterday, a federal grand jury in the Eastern District of New York returned a one-count indictment alleging that between Aug. 1, 2008 and Sept. 21, 2009, Zazi knowingly and intentionally conspired with others to use one or more weapons of mass destruction, specifically explosive bombs and other similar explosive devices, against persons or property within the United States. The indictment also alleges that, in furtherance of this offense, Zazi and others traveled in interstate and foreign commerce, used email and the Internet, and that this offense and the results of the offense would have affected interstate and foreign commerce.
“The indictment alleges that Najibullah Zazi conspired with others to use explosive devices against persons or property in the United States,” said Attorney General Eric Holder. “We are investigating a wide range of leads related to this alleged conspiracy, and we will continue to work around the clock to ensure that anyone involved is brought to justice. We believe any imminent threat arising from this case has been disrupted, but as always, we remind the American public to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement.”
In a detention motion filed in the Eastern District of New York and the District of Colorado, the government stated, “In furtherance of the conspiracy, Zazi received detailed bomb-making instructions in Pakistan, purchased components of improvised explosive devices, and traveled to New York City on September 10, 2009 in furtherance of his criminal plans.”
The government’s detention memo further states that “Zazi remained committed to detonating an explosive device up until the date of his arrest, as exemplified by among other things, traveling overseas to receive bomb-making instructions, conducting extensive research on the internet regarding components of explosive devices, purchasing—on multiple occasions—the components necessary to produce TATP [Triacetone Triperoxide] and other explosive devices, and traveling to New York City on September 10, 2009 in furtherance of the criminal plan.”
The Justice Department will seek to have Zazi transferred from the District of Colorado to the Eastern District of New York to be arraigned on the charge in the Brooklyn indictment. If convicted of the charge in the indictment, Zazi faces a potential sentence of life in prison.
The prosecution is being handled by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of New York, with assistance from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Colorado and the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
The investigation is being conducted by the New York and Denver FBI Joint Terrorism Task Forces, which combined have investigators from more than fifty federal, state and local law enforcement agencies.
The public is reminded that an indictment contains mere allegations and a defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty.