The case of Najibullah Zazi looks more and more like a major al-Qaeda operation, according to the AP’s sources in the US intelligence community.  Zazi had friends in high AQ places, including a confidante of Osama bin Laden who helped the terrorist leader build the AQ network.  That puts aside any notion that Zazi was a “home grown” terrorist and highlights the threat the US still faces from bin Laden:

The airport shuttle driver accused of plotting a bombing in New York had contacts with al-Qaida that went nearly all the way to the top, to an Osama bin Laden confidant believed 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.

Intelligence officials declined to discuss the nature of the contact or whether al-Yazid contacted Zazi to offer simple encouragement or help with the bombing plot prosecutors say Zazi was pursuing.

Al-Yazid’s contact with Zazi indicates that al-Qaida 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 9/11 attacks.

Of course they did.  Zazi appeared to have succeeded in making himself an AQ sleeper agent, and the AQ leadership understands the value in that for fture attacks.  Fortunately for us, they do not appear to understand the value in radio silence when dealing with sleeper agents.  Zazi apparently kept up a steady correspondence with his contacts, which allowed US intelligence to unravel his plot.

By the way, al-Yazid — who was part of the Sadat assassination conspiracy — now runs AQ’s operations in Afghanistan, according to the AP.  Afghanistan, one will recall, is the place that National Security Adviser Jim Jones says that al-Qaeda is no threat and where less than 100 AQ fighters live and work.  It seems that enough of them live and work there to put a plot against the US in motion, and to move it to a near-operational status, which seems pretty reminiscent of the 9/11 plot.

The FBI and US intelligence weren’t fooled.  Zazi has turned out to be a very big fish indeed.  Hopefully, no more AQ sleeper agents have slipped past their guard.  This case shows that we cannot afford to relax against the radical Islamist terrorists that want nothing more than our total destruction.