At the same time, the Daily News has learned that prime terror suspect Najibullah Zazi has confessed he was a jihadist hell-bent on murderous mayhem, the sources said.The fact that there are only three men in custody (Zazi, Zazi's father, and a Queens imam) has led to additional warnings about terrorists who may be targeting mass transit around the nation and particularly in the New York metro area.
NYPD investigators, in coordination with the FBI, hit chemical and fertilizer companies looking for customers who bought bulk and paid cash - and they were also showing up at storage centers in Long Island City.
Investigators believe they were going to use the units to mix chemicals for explosives.
"They're full on, and still going full bore," a counterterror official said of the bomb hunt.
The Department of Homeland Security at the same time has issued a nationwide bulletin asking cops to look at storage facilities.
"Operation Nexus" took on an extra urgency after raids on Queens apartments Zazi visited turned up knapsacks and cell phones. The exact targets are not known, but the find raised the specter of simultaneous blasts like the 2004 attack that killed 191 commuters in Spain.
ABC News reported that investigators believe that there were three teams of four terrorists involved in the planning.
CNN reports that the FBI is looking for at least 12 other people.
Najibullah Zazi, his father Mohammed Wali Zazi and Muslim cleric Ahmad Wais Afzali are charged with lying to federal agents. All three men are originally from Afghanistan.Ahmad Wais Afzali, through his attorney Ron Kuby, says that he did nothing wrong and that he was frantically trying to inform law enforcement of what he had seen and heard in relation to Zazi. If that's true, then it is possible that certain charges against Zazi may not be warranted. It depends on what statements he made that were lies, and what else was said. Kuby also says that the FBI went after Afzali because they blew the case against Zazi. I suspect that Kuby may be on to something here given the way information about this whole terror investigation came to light and how the media got tipped off to possible arrests, instead of the typical procedure of making arrests and then alerting media thereafter immediately prior to bringing the suspects into court.
A federal magistrate set bail at $50,000 Monday during the men's first appearances in courtrooms in New York and Colorado.
The elder Zazi, 53, whose son is at the center of the investigation, will be allowed to go home under electronic monitoring and required to remain there except for work, medical care, religious services or court appearances, prosecutors said. He is unlikely to be released until later this week.
Prosecutors are asking that his son, 24-year-old Najibullah Zazi, be held until trial. He is scheduled to attend a detention hearing Thursday.
Still, warnings were sent out to law enforcement about potential targets like arenas, stadiums, and hotels, although they remain general warnings and law enforcement doesn't know of specific plots at this time.