Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said Tuesday that recent testimony by terrorist Najibullah Zazi showed the NYPD didn't undermine an investigation of the 2009 plot to bomb subways on the 9/11 anniversary as some news media have reported.
Zazi testified as a government witness in the trial of terror suspect Adis Mendujanin, who was convicted last week in federal court in Brooklyn of participating in the subway bombing plot.
Zazi said he decided to abort the plot on Sept. 10, 2009, after he was stopped three times by law enforcement while driving to New York City. It was only the next day, Sept. 11, Kelly said, that his detectives showed a picture of Zazi to a Queens imam who later tipped off Zazi's father in Colorado about police interest.
Some news reports after Zazi's arrest in September 2009, citing unnamed sources, indicated it was the NYPD action that tipped off Zazi to law enforcement activity, forcing the FBI to make an arrest sooner than it wanted.
"Whoever leaked that information, either did it maliciously or was just uninformed," Kelly told reporters Tuesday.
Over the weekend, a Wall Street Journal opinion piece by NYPD director of intelligence Mitch Silber detailed Zazi's testimony and insisted that the now-imprisoned terrorist's description of events set the record straight. Police officials had privately complained about the leaks back in 2009. Kelly also has said the NYPD had been the object of petty sniping from other unnamed law enforcement officials.
In describing Zazi's testimony, Kelly said it was actually Port Authority police, at the direction of the FBI, who stopped the terror suspect's car as it approached the George Washington Bridge on Sept. 10. Dogs searched the car but didn't find the explosives Zazi was carrying, Kelly said, and the vehicle continued into the city.
"In other words the explosive material was allowed to come into New York City," Kelly said.
Zazi later told investigators that if the dogs had found the explosives that he would have jumped off the bridge, Kelly said.
Because he was stopped by the bridge and twice earlier for speeding, Zazi and his conspirators decided to abort the plot, Kelly said.