September 30, 2009 in Nation/World

Terror suspect enters a plea

Commissioner says alleged helpers don’t pose a threat
Tom Hays Associated Press
Associated Press photo

In this courtroom sketch, suspected al-Qaida terrorist Najibullah Zazi appears in Brooklyn Federal Court in New York on Tuesday.
(Full-size photo)

NEW YORK – As a suspected al-Qaida operative pleaded not guilty Tuesday to plotting a bomb attack in New York, the city’s police commissioner pronounced the threat neutralized and said there is nothing to fear from the defendant’s three alleged accomplices.

The terror scheme “has been broken up,” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. “I see no danger emanating … from the people involved in this investigation.”

He would not elaborate, and police and federal investigators have repeatedly refused to discuss the whereabouts of the three people who are alleged to have helped Afghan immigrant Najibullah Zazi buy beauty supplies for use in brewing up explosives.

Zazi, 24, is the only suspect publicly identified so far in what Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Knox called a conspiracy that was “international in scope.” Prosecutors said Zazi received al-Qaida explosives training in Pakistan last year and may have intended to carry out his attack on the anniversary of 9/11.

After his return to the U.S., authorities said, three people traveled from New York City to suburban Denver over the summer and used stolen credit cards to help Zazi buy products containing hydrogen peroxide and acetone – common ingredients for homemade bombs. Authorities said the three returned to New York at some point.

Zazi, heavily bearded and wearing a blue jail smock, never spoke and showed no emotion as his lawyer entered a not guilty plea to conspiracy in a Brooklyn courtroom guarded by a team of deputy marshals. He was ordered held without bail.

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