Court papers allege that at least three people helped Najibullah Zazi buy beauty products containing peroxide and acetone in suburban Denver. The chemicals can be used to make homemade bombs.Given the public nature of the ongoing investigation, it would seem that law enforcement doesn't mind announcing that they've looking at three other people in connection with the investigation.
Investigators know the identities of the three people, who are from New York City, the law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Monday. He spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation continues.
Najibullah Zazi, center, is escorted off an NYPD helicopter by U.S Marshals after being extradited from Denver, Colo.
The official would not say anything about where the possible accomplices or the bomb-making materials are.
Zazi, an Afghan immigrant, had pages of notes detailing how to turn the beauty products into explosives and at least 18 bottles of peroxide-based hair lighteners, authorities have said.
Zazi has proclaimed his innocence. His lawyer says authorities have no explosives or chemicals to back up claims that he planned an attack in New York City.
As authorities have continued to search for additional suspects, they've issued a flurry of terrorism warnings for sports complexes, hotels and transit systems based on their investigation.
Prosecutors have said the three others who shopped with him in Aurora, Colo., for the beauty products also accompanied him on an August 2008 flight to Pakistan for terrorism training. By that time, he had already come to authorities' attention.
This investigation has been marked by a string of high profile announcements and then a series of reports that indicate a serious squabble/rift between the FBI and the NYPD.
So, how did law enforcement get tipped off to Zazi's terror plans? The feds had been monitoring sales of certain chemicals, in this case hair care products containing hydrogen peroxide.
Sometimes Zazi was joined on his shopping trips to the beauty supply stores in suburban Denver by other bearded men who looked like they'd never been to a beauty parlor, the feds said.
When a curious clerk at one of the stores Zazi visited between July and September asked him why he was buying "Ms. K Liquid 40 Volume" in bulk, Zazi had a ready answer.
"He jokingly said, 'I have a lot of girlfriends,'" said Karan Hoss at the Beauty Supply Warehouse in Aurora, Colo.
Zazi's response might have fooled the clerk, but it didn't fool the feds.
They knew the hydrogen peroxide - and the other acetone-based goodies that Zazi bought - could be used to make deadly bombs.
And they already had been watching Zazi for more than a year, after wiretaps caught him communicating with Osama Bin Laden's followers, sources said.
"He was a lucky hit," a law enforcement source told the Daily News. "He was in touch with really dangerous guys with real track records of pulling off attacks."
Now Zazi, a 24-year-old Afghan immigrant, is in a federal jail cell in New York waiting to stand trial for plotting to bomb the city near the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.