US charges Afghan-born man with bomb plot

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The Independent US

A Colorado airport shuttle driver has been charged in New York with conspiring to launch a bombing attack in the United States and the US attorney general said any imminent threat from the plot had been thwarted.

A New York grand jury charged Afghan-born Najibullah Zazi, 24, with plotting with unidentified others as far back as August 2008 to "use one or more weapons of mass destruction," according to an indictment unsealed on Thursday.

US authorities have said Zazi admitted to the FBI that he took a bomb-making course at an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan. He previously had been charged and jailed in Colorado with lying to investigators.

Authorities have said they had no information on the timing, location or target of any planned attacks. A spokeswoman for Zazi's lawyer had no comment.

"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," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.

"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," Holder said.

Zazi's father, Mohammed Wali Zazi, also has been charged with lying to authorities in Colorado. Ahmad Wais Afzali, a New York imam and New York police informant, was charged in New York. All three Afghan-born men have said they are innocent.

Zazi, a legal permanent US resident, had been under surveillance for some time when the investigation was made public on Sept. 14, when law enforcement units staged raids in Queens. Federal authorities say they acted after Afzali tipped off Zazi that he was being watched.

Concerns that the plot may not have been completely disrupted led to a series of warnings from law enforcement about purchases of large quantities of materials that could be fashioned into explosive devices.

The government said over the last three months Zazi and unnamed associates bought "unusually large quantities" of hydrogen peroxide and acetone products that could be used to make bombs and that he had bomb-making notes on his laptop computer.

In early September "Zazi attempted to communicate on multiple occasions with another individual - each communication more urgent in tone than the last - seeking to correct mixtures of ingredients to make explosives," according to court documents.

The notes on his computer detailed explosives that were similar to those used in the 2005 London train bombings, the documents said.

The Justice Department said they planned to request that Zazi be transferred to New York to face the charge, which carries a life sentence. The government also plans to ask that he be held until trial.

They cited his overseas travel to receive bomb-making instructions, his extensive research on the Internet regarding components of explosive devices, multiple purchases of the parts necessary to make a bomb and going to New York City on Sept. 10 as part of the criminal plot.