Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Najibullah Zazi Was in Touch With al Qaeda's #2

Details now emerging in the case of Najibullah Zazi, the Afghan immigrant who has been charged with plotting to bomb targets in New York City, suggest that young Mr. Zazi was more than just another run-of-the-mill Jihobbyist caught in an FBI sting. He was in contact with one of al Qaeda's heavy hitters.

The Washington Times reports today:

The airport shuttle driver accused of plotting a bombing in New York had contacts with al Qaeda that went nearly all the way to the top, to an Osama bin Laden confidant thought to be the terrorist group's leader in Afghanistan, U.S. intelligence officials told the Associated Press.

Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, an Egyptian reputed to be one of the founders of the terrorist network, used a middleman to contact Afghan immigrant Najibullah Zazi as the 24-year-old man hatched a plot to use homemade backpack bombs, perhaps on the city's mass-transit system, the two intelligence officials said.

-- snip --

Al-Yazid's contact with Mr. Zazi indicates that al Qaeda leadership took an intense interest in what U.S. officials have called one of the most serious terrorism threats crafted on U.S. soil since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

"Zazi working with the al Qaeda core is exceptionally alarming," said Daniel Byman of the Brookings Institution's Saban Center. "The al Qaeda core is capable of far more effective terrorist attacks than jihadist terrorists acting on their own, and coordination with the core also enables bin Laden to choose the timing to maximize the benefit to his organization."

-- snip --

Al-Yazid, 53, also known as Abu Saeed al-Masri and Sheikh Said, is a well-known al Qaeda figure who initially disagreed with bin Laden's Sept. 11 plot, according to the 9/11 Commission Report. Al-Yazid was known at the time of the attack as head of al Qaeda's finance committee.

-- snip --

A member of Egypt's radical Islamist movement, al-Yazid took part in the 1981 assassination of President Anwar Sadat, according to "In the Graveyard of Empires," a book by counterterrorism expert Seth G. Jones. He spent three years in prison, where he joined Ayman al-Zawahri's Egyptian Islamic Jihad, Mr. Jones wrote. Al-Zawahri is considered al Qaeda's No. 2 leader, behind bin Laden.

Interesting that Zazi was an airport shuttle driver in Denver. That seems to be increasingly a foreign-dominated job field. I was in Denver a week ago, and I had Somali immigrant drivers on the airport Super Shuttle for both my arrival and departure days. What's more, all of their radio and cell phone chatter with other drivers was in what I assume was the Somali language. Is this another one of those jobs Americans won't do?

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