Sep 21 2009

NYPD & FBI Blow Critical Informant?

Published by at 7:40 pm under All General Discussions,Bin Laden/GWOT

I get the sinking feeling that the New York Imam who was arrested in the al Qaeda terrorist cell case involving the Zazi family in Colorado is the victim of law enforcement ineptitude. The main reason for this the FBI side of the story keeps shifting, and it seems they are nitpicking details no person could honestly be asked to keep straight without a recording device.

Here is one of many late breaking reports that NOW indicate Ahmad Afzali not only found Najbulla Zazi (as he was requested by NYPD), he also told the FBI he had made contact with him!

According to the government, agents approached Afzali Sept. 10 and showed him a photo of Najibullah Zazi, 24, a fellow Afghan immigrant who moved from Queens to Denver.

No one disputes the fact the FBI/NYPD came to Afzali for information on Zazi. Apparently Afzali got the idea to see if he could locate Zazi – and succeeded.

The next day, Sept. 11, FBI wiretaps caught Zazi’s father telling his son he’d gotten a call from Afzali warning him the FBI was showing his photo.

The father was urging his son to call Afzali when call-waiting beeped: Afzali was on Zazi’s other line.

“They asked me about you guys,” the imam told the suspected terrorist, according to a transcript. “They came to ask me about your characters.”

He continued, “I’m not sure what happened. And I don’t want to know …I told them that ‘they are innocent, law abiding.'”

Now up this point it would seem to be quite damning – except Afzali apparently told law enforcement that HE HAD FOUND the man they were looking for! He told them about the phone calls! This is evident in the next part of the reporting:

Hours later, Zazi called the imam to say his rental car had vanished. Afzali allegedly asked if there was any “evidence” in the car and Zazi said no.

The car contained bomb making notes, the FBI says.

According to the government, when questioned April 17, Afzali said it was Zazi who called him, not the other way around.

Am I missing something here? Zazi called the Imam, and the Imam claimed Zazi called him? Which Zazi was it? Imam called Zazi senior, but did not make contact with Zazi junior (but did try). I would care I guess if the Imam did not alert the FBI to the conversations, but evidently he did and these little details are not relevant. There is more:

Kuby said his client might have been confused about who called whom, but was trying to help. “The government asked him to make contact with (Zazi) and find out what he was up to,” Kuby said. “So he left out a bunch of things. He’s not a trained stenographer. He is doing everything they want him to do.”

Prosecutors are skeptical. “Why would he ask Zazi about ‘evidence’ in his car?” said one official close to the case.

I can see why immediately. Here is this guy Afzali has basically vouched for calling him and talking about a stolen car that may interest the Feds. He is a damned PAID INFORMANT! Is radar went off and he asked the obvious question – is there evidence in the car to be worried about? I too find it strange Zazi would bring this up. As an Imam, I could see Afzali trying to probe the conscience of this man he vouched for.

I think he heard some shading of the truth by Zazi and realized this guy was legitimately a concern and undercover. He probably noted the probably surveillance half to himself as well as Zazi (maybe hoping he was wrong). That seems to be what other people are noting:

The president of the Masjid Al-Saaliheen mosque in Fresh Meadows, who did not want his name used, said Afzali came to see him Friday so upset that he cried.

“He was very sad and scared. He didn’t want to be involved,” the mosque president said. “He said, ‘they asked me questions but I had no idea. I hope they don’t turn it around on me.'”

I’m sorry, but a couple of things stand out here. One, Afzali was able to gain information as requested, and kept the FBI in the loop. That’s one damn good informant! Two, Afzali is now a lost asset over this mess – which is sad given the value and heroic nature of Afzali’s efforts (trust me, he is a marked man).

In this AP timeline one thing jumps out, when Afzali was contacted he ADMITTED he knew of Zazi:

Sept. 10: Zazi arrives in New York, more than 1,600 miles away, and stays at a home in Queens. He is stopped by police on the George Washington Bridge, which connects New Jersey to Manhattan, and consents to a random search of his vehicle for drugs. He was allowed to leave. Family members say he drove because he wanted to see the country. Meanwhile, New York City police detectives meet with Ahmad Wais Afzali, whom they’ve used as a source before. They show him photos of Zazi and others, and Afzali says he recognizes Zazi.

Well he did not try and hide the fact he knew Zazi. If Afzali did tell authorities about his contacts with the Zazis, but was unable to recall the details they had on wiretaps, I would have to conclude the NYPD and FBI just lost a valuable asset for nothing. I could be wrong, but I see a pattern here of changing stories – from Zazi, of course, and authorities.

Update: More here.  Apparently authorities asked Afzali to find Zazi:

Investigators last week asked Afzali to “find out where Mr. Zazi is and where he was going to,” Kuby said. Investigators had been tipped off that Zazi had trained in an Al Qaeda terrorist camp. According to Kuby, Afzali then made calls, which he knew were being monitored by agents, to friends of Zazi’s father and Zazi’s father himself. Afzali eventually reached Zazi, who had driven from his home in Colorado and was then in the New York City area.

Well, he found him. I would note Afzali tried Colorado first – not New York where Zazi actually was. Does this mean anything? Maybe not, but it is interesting he did not get hold of Zazi a few miles away in New York City at the time.

BTW – if anyone finds the Afzali complaint/charges please let me know!

Update: Found the criminal complaint for Afzali:

In the complaint document it is clear Afzali not only located Zazi, but asked him for contact numbers for two other individuals the NYPD (and presumably the FBI) were searching for. That sounds to me like he was trying to do what the NYPD asked of him. He then asks Zazi for a meeting with him and the other individuals. At this point I doubt Afzali knows Zazi is literally a few miles away. Again, why would Afzali link Zazi to these other suspects if he was trying to warn them off? By tying them all together with Zazi he ensured they all would be caught in the same net as Zazi.

Pretty dumb move for someone trying to tip off allies, knowing the phone is probably tapped.

Also, Afzali waved his Miranda rights and detailed his recollection of the conversations 6 days prior! Again, not the act of someone trying to cover for a pending terrorist attack. al Qaeda knows to get lawyered up and delay the investigation to allow other cell members time to go underground. That is what Zazi did.

Without the FBI’s surveillance transcript it is hard to see who is right. The Afzali recollection of the final call with Zazi is very much at odds with the complaint (I could not help noticing that Afzali was aware in the later call that Zazi was in New York). I hate to say it, but after watching the nonsense with Patrick Fitzgerald and the Scooter Libby case I don’t trust law enforcement to not read more into comments than can be derived.

We shall see, but how this unfolds. But right now it would be assuming a lot conclude Imam Afzali was a paid informant gone bad (which is what I myself thought one day ago).

8 responses so far

8 Responses to “NYPD & FBI Blow Critical Informant?”

  1. WWS says:

    Good catch – it’s hard to tell why they’re being so hard on Afzali, but you can’t rule out the possibility that they needed another defendant to make up for the ones they let get away by handling this thing clumsily and breaking it too early.

    It’s not just Fitzgerald – I’ve started to get very skeptical of the Fed’s after realizing just how badly they botched the Ted Stevens prosecution. Didn’t get as much press, but the incompetence and bungling by the Stevens prosecution team was breathtaking.

    I read the affidavit you provided the link to also. It appears the only basis for the complaint is that Afzali’s remembrance of the conversation in the interview differs with the transcript of the conversation they have from the wiretap on the line.

    This is a damned slender thread to hang a criminal case on, especially one with this much emotional baggage. The obvious angle for Afzali’s attorney to take – Why would Afzali intentionally lie about what was said in that conversation when the FBI itself says that Afzali knew the conversation was being taped? Doesn’t that look much more like a simple lapse of memory by someone who didn’t suspect he was being set up, rather than a malicious intent to decieve?

    Unless they can come up with some hard evidence of Afzali’s involvement in the plot (something much more concrete than faulty memory of a single conversation) then I don’t think this is a case that the prosecution even wants to try to sell to a jury.

    And it’s prosecutorial abuse to file charges in a case where there’s no realistic chance of getting a conviction.

  2. kathie says:

    Sorry to change the subject AJ, but look at this.

    Latif is one of the leading climate modellers in the world. He is the recipient of several international climate-study prizes and a lead author for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). He has contributed significantly to the IPCC’s last two five-year reports that have stated unequivocally that man-made greenhouse emissions are causing the planet to warm dangerously.

    Yet last week in Geneva, at the UN’s World Climate Conference–an annual gathering of the so-called “scientific consensus” on man-made climate change –Latif conceded the Earth has not warmed for nearly a decade and that we are likely entering “one or even two decades during which temperatures cool.”

  3. Alert1201 says:

    Since Kathie changed the subject to CC, there is also a big rift between the US and EU at the climate change summit. Seems we are spending so much time deliberating health care that we do not have the resources or experienced diplomats to devote to CC.

  4. WWS says:

    LGF has a post up stating that the only people who don’t believe in Global Warming are radical right wing Christians who hate science. I think Anthony Watts would be amused to hear that.

  5. AJStrata says:


    I am confident I could convince LGF otherwise. He is not stupid – he is fed up.

  6. WWS says:

    Aj, you would be banned within 3 posts if you tried. I dare you.

    *Every* post you have made here in the last week would get you banned there. Most of his old time regular posters have now been banned, and have been replaced with sockpuppets and left wing trolls from Kos.

    There’s a hot air thread that contains a lot of the LGF refugees – it’s an eye-opener, especially the comments from the people who’ve been loyal posters at CJ’s for years.

    Even Powerline made a point to publicly drop any link to his site. And those guys are far from radicals.

  7. AJStrata says:


    I would talk to him, not shout insults at him. He is fed up with the lunatic right. There are days I don’t blame him.

    With that said, I can see past the heated rhetoric and determine issues despite the Knattering Knabobs. Johnson let the messengers bias his thinking. It happens.

  8. combat18 says:

    Most likely is that the imam is a double agent. At times he was an informant, but is now working against law enforcement.