The New York Daily News says the FBI fears a "Madrid-style" subway bombing in New York, and the man reported to be the mastermind will hold a press conference today. For better or worse, this is what we voted for.
It's truly a new world. Remember that weird anti-terrorism raid in Queens on Monday that no one was talking about? Well, the Daily News says it was an attempt to break up an Al Qaeda cell that might be planning an attack on New York City's subways, and that the FBI has dispatched it's "elite hostage rescue squad" here to stage more raids. And the Colorado man whose visit to Queens sparked the whole thing is now back at home near Denver, chatting with reporters in his apartment and talking with his lawyer about holding a press conference to declare his innocence.
Fearful of a Madrid-style subway train bombing, authorities are poised to make more raids to seize bomb-making materials at locations in Queens, sources said Wednesday.
The FBI's elite Hostage Rescue Squad arrived in New York in anticipation of the offensive to thwart a Denver-based terror cell with ties to Al Qaeda, police sources told the Daily News.
The paper says yesterday's actions were precipitated by a visit to Queens from Najibullah Zazi, a Colorado airport shuttle driver of Afghan descent who had been under e-mail and wiretap surveillance and is allegedly suspected of plotting to attack the subway system. Anonymous law enforcement sources told the paper that they found documents on bomb-making in the rental car Zazi used to drive to New York last weekend; the FBI has warned local police departments to be on the lookout for signs of peroxide-based bombs.
So where is Zazi? At home in Denver, giving quotes to reporters at his door:
"No. Of course, I'm not a terrorist," the 25-year-old Afghan national said Tuesday.
A bearded and barefoot Zazi, standing in the doorway of his apartment, said he's a hard-working airport shuttle driver who is married and lives with his elderly parents in the Denver suburb.
"I didn't know anything about who was following me," Zazi said of reports he is under surveillance by the FBI.
Asked why he left New York City, where he was raised since moving to Flushing, Queens, as a child, Zazi said, "I left New York because it's hard to live there; the rent is too expensive." We hear you, brother.
We don't know what to make of it. It's just so damn strange when our law enforcement institutions act deliberately, lawfully, and without sowing panic as a political strategy. It's so gratifying to know that the man at the center of a terrorism investigation wasn't immediately hooded, drugged via suppository, and strapped to the floor of a C-130 for a flight to Romania. "Given some of the course that has happened in this country in recent years, he was more worried that he would be swooped into the back of a van and that he wouldn't be able to speak to a lawyer or family," Zazi's attorney told the AP. "I told him our government doesn't have that policy any more."
We have to confess that when we hear "Madrid-style attack" and "New York City subway," we instinctively go to our inner Cheney. But this is what we've been talking about for the past eight years—a reasoned response to terror threats that doesn't throw our laws and Constitution out the window. If the FBI had the goods on Zazi, we presume they would have acted on it. In the meantime, we will get on the F train to go home tonight and hope we know what we've been talking about for all these years.