Thursday, September 24, 2009

Zazi Indicted On Bomb Charges

The feds have charged Najibullah Zazi with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. I doubt that the WMD charges will stick, because conventional explosives are not the same as WMD. That could change if the composition of the explosives allegedly sought to be prepared by Zazi would have resulted in WMD effects - the release of toxic gases in addition to the explosive forces.
A reputed Al Qaeda operative was indicted Thursday for a conspiracy to use "weapons of mass destruction" to blow up unspecified targets across the country.

An indictment unsealed in Brooklyn Federal Court charged Najibullah Zazi with getting bomb-making instructions in Pakistan - and then trying to build the bombs here.

His trip to New York on the eve of the eighth anniversary of 9/11 was "in furtherance of his criminal plans," a government memorandum says.

Zazi was accused of buying bomb-making materials from shops near his Aurora, Colo., home and apparently cooking them up in a hotel suite earlier this month. The feds say he also searched the Internet for Queens home improvement stores that carry the bomb ingredient muriatic acid.
Muriatic acid is used to clean concrete and masonry of efflorescence which is a necessary step if you want to put on concrete sealers like Drylok. It's got to be handled quite carefully, because it can cause burns. Definitely nasty stuff, but it is widely available.

The Times has a copy of the indictment and supporting documents here.

The specific charge is conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. It's alleged that Zazi learned how to make bombs in Pakistan and had traveled to NYC on September 10, 2009 in furtherance of his plans to detonate devices around the US. A search of computer records found images of how to put together bombs using various commonly available chemicals to make TATP, the explosive that was used by the London subway bombings and by shoe bomber Richard Reid.

TATP by itself is not a WMD, so it will be interesting to see how this case develops.

This isn't the first major terror case to be busted this year (see the Bronx Bombers and the JFK terror plot last year) but is significant because of Zazi's direct ties with al Qaeda training. Other terror busts in the past year have been by singular terror cells that have no apparent direct connection with al Qaeda.

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