His lawyer’s still denying it but Fox News, ABC News, the Daily News, and the New York Post are all hearing from sources that a deal’s in the works. So much for the Times’s first halting effort this morning at implying that the feds had the wrong guy.
The Denver man at the center of an alleged New York bomb plot, Najibullah Zazi, has admitted he has ties to al Qaeda and is in negotiations to plead guilty to a terror charge, a senior law enforcement official told ABC News.
The official said Zazi had received explosives training and his possible guilty plea would be part of a deal to cooperate with the government…
Zazi has been under investigation for almost a year, according to law enforcement and intelligence officials. The CIA reportedly first learned of his alleged al Qaeda ties when Zazi visited Pakistan and official said they later learned of “deeply troubling” conversations that were picked up on government intercepts…
Officials said Zazi, his lawyer, and federal prosecutors were in discussions that would involve the suspect pleading guilty to a counter of material support for terrorism.
Authorities say if Zazi fully cooperates, his knowledge of possible targeting and other plots aimed at the United States could provide an intelligence windfall.
The FBI wants to talk to his dad too, although it’s unclear if he’s suspected of being part of the cell. Er, if Zazi’s the ringleader, how likely is it that pop’s a mere henchman? Wouldn’t/shouldn’t it be the other way around? Maybe they only want to know from the elder Zazi who his son’s acquaintances are.
The Daily News claims that cops found cell-phone footage Zazi had taken of Grand Central Station — although it appeared tourist-y — and notes that the number of suspects, which had been five, has now risen to 12. If you believe the Post, seven of them were rounded up in Queens yesterday and are still in custody, although no one’s been arrested yet. Those new numbers make sense: Remember, police allegedly discovered as many as 14 brand new backpacks when they were gathering evidence. What’s worrisome here is that there’s no sense in any of these stories that the feds think they know who all the plotters are; on the contrary, one police source flatly told the Daily News, “The question is, ‘Do we have everyone in the cell?'” I wonder how much of the deal they’re cutting with Zazi is motivated by weak evidence against him — sure sounds like they have plenty — and how much is motivated by simple urgency in getting him to roll over on the rest of the plotters ASAP. Stay tuned.