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Terror suspect Zazi seeks U.S. intelligence files

Najibullah Zazi, center, is escorted off an NYPD

Najibullah Zazi, center, is escorted off an NYPD helicopter by U.S Marshals after being extradited from Denver. (Sept. 25, 2009) Credit: AP

Lawyers for terror suspect Najibullah Zazi, arrested last summer on charges he plotted to kill Americans with homemade bombs, want prosecutors to search the files of U.S. intelligence agencies to see if there is information which could help the defense.

In a filing in Brooklyn federal court, defense attorney Michael J. Dowling of Denver, said that while the case is covered by special procedures for classified information, prosecutors still have an obligation to contact intelligence agencies for such information.

Dowling told Newsday he was referring to the Central Intelligence Agency, National Security Agency, Defense Intelligence Agency and other government units.

Such requests for exculpatory information are routine in criminal cases. In Zazi's case, the information being sought relates to witnesses or potential witnesses, including financial data and information about their drug abuse and mental illness, according to the filing.

But the fact prosecutors are invoking the classified information procedures act to protect evidence could complicate the way any secret information is used in the case.

Zazi, 24, an immigrant from Afghanistan living in Phoenix, was arrested in September after a joint NYPD-FBI terror task force learned he was allegedly involved in a New York City bombing plot timed around the anniversary of Sept. 11.

Video surveillance uncovered Zazi buying quantities of chemicals such as hydrogen peroxide and acetone which can be used to make explosive devices. Zazi also traveled to New York right before the anniversary of the 2001 terror attack.

Officials have said at least three others were involved in the purchases. No one else has been charged in connection with the plot, however, and officials have not said if a stash of chemicals were ever found. Zazi is being held without bail pending trial.

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