New evidence is emerging that New York terror suspect Najibullah Zazi met with senior Al Qaeda operatives, in addition to his training in explosives by members of the organization. A New York Daily News article tracked these new developments and noted that it started with a tip from the CIA. That, the article notes, "sheds more light on the government's claim that the charges against him are part of a broader, international case and begins to explain why the investigation triggered such a large offensive from the nation's intelligence community."
The CIA learned about Zazi in late August from informants in Pakistan and alerted domestic law enforcement of his movements. Zazi had been recruited by Al Qaeda and trained in making bombs from relatively common supplies, potentially for an attack on the New York subway system around the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. The type of explosives matched the size and scale of a smaller assault which would have still killed scores of people, similar to the type assembled in a foiled July 2005 London subway plot.
In addition to the new details about Zazi's training, officials have put out word that they have identified three of Zazi's accomplices as well as having developed a clearer timeline of their plan. On September 9th, Zazi drove to New York from Colorado in a rental car, but fled on September 12th when he heard that authorities were searching for him. The names of Zazi's fellow terrorist have not yet been released.
However, the original, light charges for which Zazi was arrested upset some mainstream Muslim organizations like the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Spokesman Ibrahim Hooper told the New York Times:
"It heightens our concerns about the case because you would expect that if the government's allegations were based on strong evidence, that there would be charges brought based on terror-related evidence, not making false statements."
Contrary to such knee-jerk defenses, this case showed a rapid reaction to a multi-national plot with multiple, sophisticated actors. The collective efforts of the nation's intelligence services and the heightened security monitoring following the arrests is a clear victory in the continuing war on Al Qaeda.