It is more than a little disturbing to learn that potential terrorists with an admitted al-Qaida connection may have been residing here in Colorado.
Najibullah Zazi and his father, Mohammed Wali Zazi, both of Aurora, were arrested Saturday in Colorado on charges that they lied to investigators about a terrorist investigation. A third man, Ahmad Wais Afzaili of New York City, was also arrested on a similar charge. All three appeared in federal court Monday.
The arrests capped an investigation that began more than a week earlier when the younger Zazi was stopped Sept. 10 in a rental car in New York. Authorities say they found a laptop computer in the car that contained images of handwritten notes containing information on how to make and handle explosives. The computer also showed it had been used to search for locations connected to public gatherings in New York.
During several sessions of questioning with the FBI in Denver last week, Najibullah Zazi allegedly told investigators that during a 2008 trip to Pakistan he attended courses on weapons and explosives at an al-Qaida training camp, according to documents filed in conjunction with the arrests. Later, in an interview with The Denver Post, Zazi denied he told the FBI any such thing.
There is speculation that the FBI decided to arrest the three men on the lying charges Saturday, because the investigation was moving rapidly and they wanted to ensure the three men were in custody. More charges are expected, although the FBI had not said as much over the weekend.
Other homes where Zazi stayed while he was in New York were also searched over the weekend, and additional people questioned. There were reports that men associated with Zazi attempted to rent a large truck just before the anniversary of Sept. 11. It is uncertain whether the three men arrested were acting on their own to plan some terrorist attack, or whether they might have been part of a larger organization.
The three men arrested, including the father and son from Colorado, have not been convicted of any crimes as yet. And based on the sketchy information released so far by the FBI, it’s impossible to know what they may have been planning, if anything. We hope authorities will release more details as the case proceeds this week. And we’re glad they acted quickly to deal with those who may have been planning terrorist attacks in this country.