A Queens imam has been indicted on charges that he lied to federal agents about an Afghan immigrant who was later charged with plotting a bomb attack in New York City.
The indictment was returned Monday in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn against 53-year-old Ahmad Wais Afzali.
Afzali was accused of tipping off Najibullah Zazi last month that New York Police Department detectives were searching for Zazi. Zazi, 24, was subsequently arrested and charged with conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction. He is held without bond.
Investigators have said Zazi urgently tried to mix explosives in a Colorado hotel room in early September, then drove to New York to carry out an attack, perhaps on the New York transit system.
On Sept. 10, investigators secretly searched Zazi's rented vehicle in New York and found a laptop computer with bomb-making instructions, authorities said. On Sept. 12, Zazi cut short his New York City visit and flew back to Denver, where he was arrested a week later.
Ron Kuby, a lawyer representing Afzali, said the indictment against him "contains a tired rehash of the same baseless allegations that were made when he was arrested."
After Afzali's arrest, he was released on bail, though he was required to undergo electronic monitoring.
Kuby said: "Notably, there is no allegation that he participated in terrorism, conspired with terrorists or committed any action in furtherance of terrorism."
Kuby said his client's life consists of going to work, to the mosque and home, "which is what he did before his arrest, only now he does it with an ankle bracelet on."
Zazi and Afzali have both pleaded not guilty to charges against them.