The FBI was aware of Najibullah Zazi’s affiliation with Al Qaeda, but things only became serious when they suspected that he might be plotting a terrorist assault. In addition, once he made the decision to travel by car from Colorado to New York City, alarms started going off, which compelled the FBI to take precautions. The inquiry against Najibullah and his final arrest are chronicled in Paramount+’s ‘FBI True: Al Qaeda in Queens’. Let’s investigate the incident’s specifics and figure out his current whereabouts, shall we?
Who is Najibullah Zazi?
Najibullah Zazi, a native of the Paktia Province of Afghanistan, emigrated to Peshawar, Pakistan, when he was only seven years old in 1992. Nevertheless, around seven years later, in 1999, he and his family left their home in Pakistan and came to the United States. They then made their way to New York City and rented an apartment in the Flushing neighbourhood. It’s interesting to note that sources claimed Najibullah’s teenage mosque in Queens had an imam who was outspoken about his support for the global jihad. The former’s affiliation with the Mujahedeen thus begun, despite the fact that he would later join Al Qaeda on August 28, 2008.
Najibullah had already been married and had two children by August 2008. When Al Qaeda sent him and several others to Peshawar, Pakistan, where they received training in a variety of weapons and explosives, he actually had plans to bring his entire family over. The agents also learnt how to make rudimentary homemade bombs and carry out a suicide bombing mission. Najibullah returned to the United States after the Al Qaeda training camp and hid out for a while in his home in Aurora, Colorado.
Other intelligence organisations alerted the FBI about a potential terrorist strike on American territory in the middle of 2009. They acted quickly and shortlisted a few suspects, Najibullah being one of them. But when police learned he intended to travel from Aurora to New York City, they were sure he was up to something major.
Najibullah left his residence in Aurora, Colorado, on September 9, 2009, with the intention of travelling to New York City and detonating a bomb in the subway system during rush hour. But when he got to the city, he discovered the FBI was already keeping an eye on him. Additionally, he even came into contact with a local imam, who disclosed that local and federal security authorities were looking for the Aurora resident. Najibullah abandoned his plan and went back to Colorado out of fear of being discovered.
A reporter found Najibullah at his house shortly after his return to Colorado and questioned him about the allegations. However, the suspect sought legal counsel and argued that he had no connection to Al Qaeda in any way, shape, or form. However, when officials searched Najibullah’s Aurora home on September 14, 2009, they discovered components for a simple explosive device. He was therefore detained on September 19, 2009, as there was sufficient proof to support an arrest.
Where is Najibullah Zazi Now?
Najibullah was initially accused of making false statements in relation to an act of domestic and international terrorism, but those accusations were later dropped in favour of three new ones, including conspiracy to use WMD, conspiracy to commit murder abroad, and conspiracy to give financial support to a terrorist group. He later entered a plea of guilty to all three charges, however the date of his sentencing was postponed because of his cooperation with law enforcement and his testimony in the 2017 trial of Al Qaeda member Muhanad Mahmoud Al Farekh.
Najibullah was eventually given a 10-year sentence in 2019, however the judge immediately released him after taking into account his time served. He has grown to value privacy and likes to keep his personal affairs private in the years since his release. Furthermore, it appears that Najibullah is still staying in the United States, despite the fact that his father, Mohammed Wali Zazi, was deported to Afghanistan in 2022 after being found guilty of conspiracy to obstruct justice, visa fraud, and obstruction of justice.