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Man denies terrorist ties after raids

September 15, 2009 6:05:14 PM PDT
A Colorado man denied Tuesday that he's a central figure in a terrorism investigation that fed fears of a possible bomb plot and led to several police raids in New York City. Najibullah Zazi told The Associated Press that he recently visited New York City and was the subject of a routine traffic stop Sept. 10 on the George Washington Bridge, which connects New York City and New Jersey. But he said he was allowed to leave and return to suburban Denver.

"All I can say is that I have no idea what it is all about," Zazi said.

Two law enforcement officials confirmed Tuesday that a joint FBI-New York Police Department task force had put Zazi - a 24-year-old airport shuttle driver who a relative says recently traveled to Pakistan - under surveillance because of suspected links to al-Qaida.

The task force also feared Zazi may be involved in a potential plot involving homemade hydrogen peroxide-based explosives like those cited in an intelligence warning issued Monday, said the officials, who were not authorized to speak about the investigation and insisted on anonymity.

After Zazi traveled to New York City over the weekend, FBI agents and police officers armed with search warrants seeking bomb materials staged a surprise raid that rattled an urban, predominantly Asian neighborhood in a remote part of Queens.

Investigators searched three apartments and questioned residents, including an Afghan immigrant who knew Zazi.

But no arrests were announced, and the FBI and NYPD has since refused to discuss the case, leaving unanswered questions about the nature, scope and intent of the potential plot.

Zazi told The Associated Press he was the subject of interest in the case but denied he is being investigated.

"I spent two days in New York, flew back, and I have nothing else to say," he said. "I am an airport driver and that's all I can say."

The FBI and Homeland Security intelligence warning, issued to police departments, lists indicators that could tip off police to the peroxide-based bombs, such as people with burn marks on their hands, face or arms; foul odors coming from a room or building; and large industrial fans or multiple window fans. The warning, obtained by The Associated Press, also said that these homemade explosive materials can be hidden in backpacks, suitcases or plastic containers.

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