Investigators have identified possible accomplices of an Afghan immigrant accused of plotting a terrorist attack on New York, a law enforcement official said Monday, but the whereabouts of the helpers or any bomb-making materials they procured are unclear.
The development comes less than a day before Najibullah Zazi is due to be arraigned in Brooklyn federal court on charges of conspiracy to use a bomb.
Court papers allege that at least three people helped Zazi buy beauty products containing peroxide and acetone in suburban Denver. The chemicals can be used to make homemade bombs, federal officials said.
The official told The Associated Press on Monday that investigators know the identities of the three people, who are from New York City. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation continues.
The official would not say anything about the whereabouts of the possible accomplices or the bomb-making materials. As first reported by NBCNewYork.com last week, investigators have fanned out across the Denver area and New York City, going to beauty shops, home improvement stores and neighborhoods Zazi frequented looking for possible accomplices. As many as eight accomplices were being watched, according to sources close to the investigation.
Zazi, 24, has admitted he received weapons training from al Qaida in Pakistan. He is at the center of what federal officials said could be a plot to blow up subways or other targets in New York City. He and his father were arrested last week in Denver. Queens imam Ahmad Wais Afzali, 37, was arrested in New York and also charged with lying to the government during the terror probe.
Afzali was released last week on $1.5 million bond secured by his father's home. He will be required to submit to electronic monitoring and he can visit his mosque.
A joint terrorism task force is continuing to canvas the New York City area to see if chemicals or bomb making equipment might be stored in our area, the sources told NBC New York.
Federal officials said Zazi drove from Denver to New York on Sept. 9 and a search found him in possession of a bomb-making manual, batteries, a scale, and other equipment that could be used to make explosives.