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Terrorism Suspect Planned Peroxide Bombs, Officials Say
On Sept. 6 and 7, authorities say, Zazi rented a suite in a hotel in Aurora, where FBI agents later detected "the presence of acetone . . . in the vent above the stove." The bombmaking instructions mention heating the components to make them "highly concentrated," prosecutors wrote.
On Sept. 9, Zazi rented a car, drove to New York and stayed overnight in a Queens apartment building, where investigators later found backpacks, cellphones, and an electronic scale that FBI agents say could have been used to weigh possible bomb components.
Also Thursday, a well-known New York imam, Ahmad Wais Afzali, 37, appeared in federal district court in Brooklyn, where a magistrate judge set $1.5 million bail allowing for his release under electronic surveillance.
Afzali was overheard on recorded conversations earlier this month allegedly warning Zazi's father about law enforcement interest. New York Police Department intelligence unit officers, who had used the imam as a source in the past, consulted Afzali about the unfolding investigation, setting off a chain of events in which Afzali became a target, accused of lying to authorities.
"The imam did what law enforcement asked him to do," said Afzali's attorney, Ronald Kuby. Zazi's father, Mohammed Wali Zazi, also charged with misleading law enforcement agents in the investigation, has been released and is being monitored electronically.
National security experts said that although much about the case remains unclear, including the possible target of the plot, it is significant.
"This rises to the top in terms of level of concern in the post-9/11 environment, given what appears to be direct connections to al-Qaeda in Pakistan, clear intent to perpetrate an attack and what appears to have been final stages of preparation," said Juan Zarate, who was deputy national security adviser for counterterrorism to President George W. Bush.
Wendy Aiello, a spokeswoman for Zazi attorney Arthur Folsom, said the lawyer "does not have a comment on the indictment at this time."
Staff writer Robin Shulman in New York and staff researcher Julie Tate in Washington contributed to this report.