Terror Suspect Zazi Had Senior al-Qaeda Contacts
CIA tipped FBI, other domestic agencies after catching a whiff
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Oct 5, 2009 8:40 PM CDT
Najibullah Zazi is escorted off an NYPD helicopter by US Marshals after being extradited from Denver, Colo., Sept. 25, 2009.   (New York City Police Department)
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(Newser) – An Afghan immigrant accused of plotting a terrorist attack in New York after receiving training in Pakistan was in contact with a senior al-Qaeda operative, intelligence officials familiar with the investigation say. The CIA learned about Najibullah Zazi through one of its sources and alerted domestic agencies, including the FBI.

The fact that intelligence officials learned of Zazi through a CIA source sheds more light on the government's claim that the charges against Zazi are part of a broader, international case and begins to explain why the investigation triggered such a large offensive from the nation's intelligence community. It also shows the case stems from the CIA's counterterrorism efforts to track al-Qaeda and not an investigation initiated in the US by someone's suspicious actions, like most other domestic terrorism cases handled by the FBI.