U.S. continues to thwart terrorists

Much as we might prefer otherwise, there is a war of terror going on, a point driven starkly home with an arrest in Denver.

Najibullah Zazi, a 24-year-old airport shuttle driver who was born in Afghanistan and lived in Aurora at the time of his arrest, loudly protested a week ago that he had no ties to al Qaida, the organization that orchestrated the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and others since, including a train bombing in Madrid in 2004 and an attack on the London subway system in July 2005.

Zazi’s protestations notwithstanding, the FBI has gathered evidence indicating that he obtained bomb-making instructions while in Pakistan and that he purchased components for making bombs.

He also traveled at least once to New York City on Sept. 10, according to the FBI, as part of a plot to use weapons of mass destruction.

Zazi was arrested along with his 53-year-old father, Mohammed Wali Zazi, 53, and an imam at a mosque in Queens, Ahmad Wais Afzali, 37.

Zazi was presumably hoping to stay off the radar of authorities on the lookout for bomb-making materials as he traveled beauty shops purchasing substances such as hydrogen peroxide and acetone products, the document said.

It’s reasonable to infer that the heavily bearded Zazi wasn’t haunting beauty shops because of a sudden interest in cosmetology, any more than Timothy McVeigh was interested in using ammonium nitrate for growing crops.

Reasonable people will disagree over whether Zazi was engaged in a criminal act or an act of war, and given the involvement of the criminal-justice system, it’s appropriate to suspend judgments of guilt or innocence.

What can’t be suspended is the recognition that the world is a dangerous place and that the dangers are inching closer to us, not farther away.

It would appear that efforts — provided they fit within the bounds of the United States Constitution — to protect Americans from more devastating attacks are succeeding and for that, the FBI and other agencies should be congratulated.


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