NEW YORK – Hundreds of federal agents and police officers widened their investigation of a potential terrorism plot involving an alleged al-Qaida associate on Wednesday as questions lingered about whether early missteps might have made the chore harder.
Investigators have fanned out in a New York City neighborhood to re-interview “people previously encountered” during previous raids there, and to locate others who know them, according to a law enforcement official familiar with the probe. The effort also includes a review of phone and other records that could link potential suspects to one another or identify new ones.
“Many of the people we’ve spoken to have been cooperative,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to The Associated Press because the investigation is ongoing.
The official said business owners are also on the list of possible witnesses in a potential homemade-bomb plot. The official declined to identify those businesses, but authorities regularly monitor sales by suppliers of chemicals that could be used in improvised explosives.
Najibullah Zazi, a 24-year-old Denver airport shuttle driver whom authorities have linked to al-Qaida; his father; and Ahmad Wais Afzali, a Queens imam, were charged last weekend with lying to the FBI. Authorities say they found bomb-making instructions on a hard drive on Zazi’s laptop but knew of no specific time or place for a possible attack.