Attorney: FBI Says Najibullah Zazi Not A Suspect

Zazi Questioned By FBI For Hours

FBI agents are not calling Najibullah Zazi a suspect, according to his attorney Art Folsom. Folsom said he and his client met with investigators for eight and a half hours at the FBI headquarters in Denver.

Folsom described the questioning as cordial and very detailed. Zazi is scheduled to meet with investigators again Thursday.

Late Wednesday night, Zazi returned to his apartment, but declined to comment saying he was very tired and had had a long day.

The FBI has raided the Aurora home of the 24-year-old man allegedly at the center of a terror investigation that prompted earlier raids in New York.

The FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force went through the home of Najibullah Zazi, as well as the nearby residence of his aunt, Rabia Zazi, FBI special agent Kathleen Wright said Wednesday. She wouldn't comment on whether Najibullah Zazi or the aunt was detained.

The raid occurred just hours after Zazi's attorney challenged the government to act or go away.

More than a dozen FBI agents, some in white hazardous materials suits, swarmed in on large black sport utility vehicles and entered Zazi's apartment on the third floor.

The FBI would not say what they were looking for other than to say they're "executing a search warrant." Crime scene tape surrounded the apartment building located on Smoky Hill Road, near Gun Club Road and E-470.

The FBI also evacuated Zazi's entire apartment building and an adjacent building and pushed everyone back 1,000 feet as a precautionary measure.

“(An FBI agent) came knocking at my door and sounded really hurried and rushed,” said Aleisa Stricharchuk, who lives in Zazi’s apartment building. “(The agent) said I need you to come outside immediately to evacuate the building.”

Agents used tarps to block the public's view of the entrance to the apartment.

Agents were seen leaving Zazi's apartment with at least six boxes and some luggage. One was labeled "swabs," and others were marked "fragile" and "glass."

Two women in burkas and Zazi's brother were taken from the apartment, put in separate cars and driven off, 7NEWS reported. The FBI did say whether the women and brother are being detained or being questioned, or removed for their safety.

By 4:15 p.m., residents in both buildings were allowed back in their apartments, but they said it was a scary and bewildering experience. They told 7NEWS FBI agents went door-to-door and told them to evacuate, but agents didn't explain why.

Zazi was not inside the apartment when it was raided. He was at FBI Denver headquarters being interviewed by FBI agents, a meeting set up by his attorney, Arthur Folsom.

After several hours of questioning, Zazi submitted DNA samples, fingerprints and handwriting samples.

While Zazi was being questioned a second search warrant was executed on a home on Ontario Place in Aurora. Records show the home is owned by Zazi’s aunt.

“It is kind of scary,” said Kristen Ivory, a neighbor. “You hear rumors and you don’t really know what is going on.”

Residents in the neighborhood said they knew something was going after spotting numerous FBI agents in the area since Saturday.

“We saw them doing a bunch of different maneuvers in the neighborhood with cars coming and going,” said Steve Beall, a neighbor. “One (car) would pull up and one would leave and then one would come back and that has been going on the last three or four days.”

About a half dozen or so FBI agents swarmed in on large black sport utility vehicles, and entered Zazi's apartment on the third floor.

"I am an airport driver and that's all I can say," Zazi said Tuesday. He works at ABC Shuttle with his father, and told 7NEWS that FBI investigators have the wrong guy.

"I have nothing to do with al-Qaida, any link or anything with al-Qaida," Zazi said.

Two law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that a joint FBI-New York Police Department task force had put Zazi under surveillance because of the suspected links to al-Qaida. They had tailed him from Colorado to New York and had been tracking him for months, apparently including a recent trip to the Pakistan.

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 spoke on anonymity because they were not authorized to speak about the investigation.

ABC News reported that in series of raids on Monday, agents seized 14 new black backpacks they suspect were to be used to carry suicide bombs and instructions on Zazi's computers on how to build a bomb with household chemicals.

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 Queens. Investigators searched three apartments and questioned residents, including Naiz Khan, who grew up with Zazi in New York City.

The Afghan immigrant said the FBI questioned him for about two hours about Zazi, whom he said stayed at his apartment last week.

"I can't tell. I don't know" about a connection between Zazi and terrorism, Khan said. "If there is, I'm not sure."

No arrests were announced, and the FBI and NYPD have refused to discuss the case, leaving unanswered questions about the nature, scope and intent of the potential plot.

Zazi Had Visited New York, Pakistan

Zazi's attorney said Zazi contacted him immediately after hearing from friends in New York that their homes had been raided.

"Given some of the course that has happened in this country in recent years, he was more worried that he would be swooped into the back of a van and that he wouldn't be able to speak to a lawyer or family," Folsom said. "I told him our government doesn't have that policy any more."

The lawyer also said Zazi drove to New York in a rented car to take care of a problem with the location of a coffee cart that he co-owns with a friend, and to visit friends.

Zazi said he was among several drivers stopped by police on Sept. 10 on the George Washington Bridge, which connects New Jersey to Manhattan, and that officers told the drivers they were conducting random searches for drugs. Zazi said he consented to a search of his vehicle and was allowed to leave.

In New York, Folsom said, Zazi's car was towed because of a parking violation. Police searched both the car and a laptop inside, Folsom said.

"They found nothing, didn't ask him any more questions and sent him on his way," Folsom said. "If they had had found anything, he would be in the company of the federal officials in New York."

Zazi returned the car to an airport and flew home to Denver, Folsom added.

"My client is completely innocent. If anything this is a matter of guilt by association," Folson said.

Zazi's 35-year-old aunt, Rabia Zazi, said that her nephew recently visited the Peshawar region of Pakistan -- where she said his wife lives and whom he hopes to bring to the United States.

She said Zazi was born in Pakistan but moved to the United States at an early age and grew up in Queens. He moved to Colorado several months ago to help his father with his shuttle business, she said.

She said her nephew often travels to Pakistan to spend time with his wife. Folsom said Zazi spends three months of the year in Pakistan.

No Imminent Threat

New York Police Department and Commissioner Raymond Kelly and FBI Director Robert Mueller said Wednesday there are no specific terrorist threats to the city.

"There are no guarantees. We live in a dangerous world," said Kelly, who called New York the world's best-protected city. "But we are doing more than anyplace else, and we're going to continue to do that."

Mueller said no threat was imminent when was asked during testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee to reassure New Yorkers and Americans that the case did not pose a ready danger.

Colorado elected officials who had been briefed on the probe also said there was no imminent threat.

Monday's FBI and Homeland Security intelligence warning, issued to police departments nationwide, listed clues that could tip off police to peroxide-based bombs, such as people with burn marks on their hands, faces or arms; foul odors coming from a room or building; and large industrial fans or multiple window fans.

The warning also said the homemade explosive materials can be hidden in backpacks, suitcases or plastic containers.

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