The Denver man accused of plotting a terrorist bombing had contacts with al-Qaeda 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, say US intelligence officials. 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 in New York.
Al-Yazid's contact with Zazi indicates that al-Qaeda leadership took an intense interest in what US officials have called one of the most serious terrorism threats on US soil since the 9/11 attacks. "Zazi working with the al-Qaeda core is exceptionally alarming," says one anti-terrorism expert. "The al-Qaeda core is capable of far more effective terrorist attacks than 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."