Nightly News   |  September 25, 2009

Terror suspect sent to NY to face charges

Sept. 25: The Denver man accused of being at the center of a terror plot by allegedly planning to make bombs out of beauty supply chemicals was being flown to New York Friday to face charges of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. NBC's Pete Williams reports.

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ANN CURRY, anchor: Now to the man accused at being at the center of the terror plot here on US soil. He is back in New York tonight to face charges that he planned to build and set off bombs. Prosecutors say his case is more serious than two others that have came to light weekend. NBC 's justice correspondent Pete Williams has details now from Washington . Pete :

PETE WILLIAMS reporting: Ann , a judge today dismissed the charge of lying against Najibullah Zazi , and that clears the way for him to face the far more serious bomb charges in New York , the place where investigators say he decided to become a terrorist. Federal marshalls brought Najibullah Zazi to the Denver airport under heavy security for the flight to New York , where authorities believe he intended to stage attacks. He arrived late in the day at a suburban New York airfield. Arguing against granting him bail, prosecutors called Najibullah Zazi a continuing danger, a man who tried to mix up a powerful explosive in a room in this Denver area hotel in early September, sending urgent e-mails for more directions after buying gallons of strong chemical ingredients at local beauty suppliers. He's seen here on one store's security camera . The owner says Zazi tried to explain why he bought so much.

Mr. KARAN HOSS (Beauty Supply Warehouse): The only unusual comment was, of course, you know, `The reason I'm buying all this developer is because I have a lot of girlfriends.'

WILLIAMS: But his lawyer says no explosives or chemicals were ever found in his house or car.

Mr. ART FOLSOM (Defense Lawyer): Well, I didn't believe that there was reason to keep him detained, but given the high profile nature of this case, the -- it really was not a surprise to anyone.

WILLIAMS: Experts say his terrorism case is very different from two others

now in the headlines: an Illinois man, Michael Finton , arrested for driving what he thought was a car bomb to a federal building in Springfield ; and in Dallas , 19-year-old Hosam Smadi arrested for placing what he thought was a bomb at a 60-story office building . Officials say both men were quickly under the watch of undercover agents posing as al-Qaeda operatives. A former CIA officer says they posed little danger.

Mr. JACK RICE (Former CIA Officer): These were amateurs. They didn't understand what they were doing. This was " Rambo ," at best.

WILLIAMS: By contrast, experts say, Zazi appears to have been an actual threat.

Mr. EVAN KOHLMANN (Terrorism Expert): Zazi apparently had real training. His notes were handwritten. They weren't downloaded from the Internet . They weren't a pre-printed manual.

WILLIAMS: Prosecutors said today that Zazi traveled to Canada twice in the past 10 years, another avenue for investigation, and FBI agents are questioning others in the US thought to have been involved. Ann :