Becky Akers New American 3/07/10

When Najibullah Zazi pled “guilty” to “plotting a suicide bomb attack on New York City subways with al Qaeda training” last week, the Feds assured us yet again they’d thwarted “one of the most serious terrorist threats to our nation since September 11, 2001, “as Attorney General Eric Holder put it. No wonder anyone with even a shred of decency cries for an end to the War-on-Liberty-Disguised-as-a-War-on-Terror: the case against Mr. Zazi is about as substantive as a politician’s promise.

Which explains why the man has steadfastly asserted his innocence since his arrest last September — until the goons railroading him threatened his parents: “The U.S Attorney in the Eastern District did a very good job exerting pressure,” crowed New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. “[Zazi’s] mother stood the chance of being arrested [on immigration charges] … he realized if he didn’t cooperate his family would be significantly impacted.”

Twenty-four-year-old Najibullah Zazi is one of those cunning terrorists whom only our rulers would suspect of being more than a nice guy. After his arrest last September, one friend said, “I never saw any wrong acts.” Said another, “He was a very normal, very life-loving guy.” A third remembered how typically American Najib seemed after emigrating from Afghanistan with his family to Queens, New York ten years ago: “he and Zazi used to play pool and computer games and … Zazi was interested in brand names — ‘nice clothes, nice shoes, everything.’” That dovetails with his ambition to earn money rather than blow people up: “He said he didn’t want to go to college,” one employer reported of the high-school drop-out. “He wanted to make money.” A step-uncle called the wannabe tycoon “a dumb kid, believe me,” but a devoted son, “basically a left shoulder for his father.” Everyone professed shock at his arrest, period, let alone for terrorism. “He was not such a person,” an imam who knew the teen-aged Najib recalled. “He was busy with his work.”

Never mind: the government claims Najib is a terrorist, and the media dutifully lynches him while readers shriek for his blood. And what did this “dumb-kid”-cum-mastermind plot? According to an indictment from the United States Eastern District Court, he “together with others, did knowingly, intentionally, and without lawful authority conspire to use one or more weapons of mass destruction [and of course, we want only lawful authority conspiring to use WMD’s so we wind up with Hiroshima and Nagasaki rather than Oklahoma City], to wit: explosive bombs and other similar explosive devices, against persons and property within the United States…” Translation: Najib supposedly hoped to bomb New York City’s subways a la the explosions that killed 52 people in London’s Tube during the summer of 2005. Adding insult to injury, he scheduled his mayhem for the new federal holiday of 9/11.

Much of the “proof” for this is what prosecutors used to dignify as “circumstantial evidence” and the rest of us call “gossip” — but the Amerikan Homeland now considers a sufficient basis for arresting a man and holding him without bond. For starters, Najib has travelled to his native Afghanistan “at least four times since” 1999, the year he and his family moved to the U.S., likely because he had agreed to an arranged marriage with a cousin still living there. The couple has two children, which probably made his visits all the more important. Alas, Najib’s wife resides in his home-town of Peshawar. Aficionados of the War on Terror will recognize that region as one renowned for its terrorists’ training camps. And, indeed, the FBI extracted a confession from Najib that he attended Al Qaeda’s tutorials. Recall that the Bush Administration proudly tortured “terrorists” for confessions, a.k.a. “intelligence,” while Obama’s prefers to “look ahead,” i.e., it refuses to indict officials for war crimes.

After his marriage, Najib grew a beard — a “bushy black” one, no less. He also “gave up American fashion for tunics and more modest traditional clothing.” We civilians might suppose he was trying to please his new wife or perhaps even preparing to move to Afghanistan to join her and the kids, but Warriors on Terror know better. Najib was radicalizing.

Hence his move to Colorado. I know, I know: shouldn’t a terrorist serious about jihad have remained in densely populated New York? Not diabolical Najib. He not only “passed a criminal background check,” throwing us even further off guard, he also began working as a driver for ABC Airport Shuttle. Airport: get it? And he continued his act as a good American. “Dispatcher Tony Gonzales described Zazi as a ‘hardworking guy. No trouble, no problem whatsoever,’ Gonzales said. ‘Very quiet guy. He’s always on time. When we give him a pickup, he always does it.’”

The government does allege a couple of actual problems — if we can believe lying Leviathan and ignore its totalitarian methods of collecting evidence. First, the State claims that Najib’s laptop contained nine pages of handwritten notes on making bombs. And how does it know that? By approaching him openly with a warrant? No. By searching his car after pretty much stealing it: AP reported that “Zazi’s rental car [was] towed for a parking violation, according to Zazi’s attorney, Arthur Folsom. FBI agents search[ed] the car and [found] a laptop…” Yet thieves and liars who pull such dirty tricks expect us to believe them when they tell us what they found.

A real war needs no such gimmicks. But the fake wars the Feds now fight, whether on terror or drugs, require suborning poor or otherwise vulnerable people, preying on disillusioned teens, inciting folks who would otherwise mind their own mundane business to embroil themselves in what may seem the thrilling demimonde of illegal drugs or fatwa against the U.S.

Najib and some of his friends were also caught on a surveillance tape purchasing more hair dye than our rulers assume anyone needs (some commentators pooh-pooh the quantity’s being “unusual”). Najib also surfed the net for information on buying other questionable products, such as muriatic acid. He may have a reasonable explanation — a form of hydrochloric acid, muriatic acid cleans “really filthy bathrooms” — but should he have to divulge it? The Constitution never empowers the Feds to spy on citizens; anything unconstitutional remains so even if Congress legalizes it. Domestic spying under the USA Patriot Act and FISA unearthed these details about Najib; that same spying could selectively assemble minutiae from my life or yours to “prove” us terrorists, too. But even if every one of the government’s charges is true, even if Najib were planning the worst attack since 9/11, the damage he might have inflicted doesn’t begin to compare with Leviathan’s destruction of our liberty while allegedly pursuing “terrorists.”

After buying too much hair-dye, Najib drove to his old stomping grounds of New York City last September. The FBI’s timeline has him “conduct[ing] the attack on Manhattan subway lines on Sept. 14, Sept. 15, or Sept. 16, 2009,” but what the heck — that’s close enough to September 11 for government work. Cops tossed his car at the George Washington Bridge after using a subterfuge similar to the “parking violation” with which they later swiped it: they “stopped” him to conduct “a random search of his vehicle for drugs.” They also pestered his friends during his time in the City; in one of the apartments they searched, this time with a warrant, “agents found, among several other items, an electronic weight scale in the closet. The scale and batteries both contained Zazi’s fingerprints.” Also setting the Warriors on Terror atwitter was a cache of backpacks — yes, I kid you not, that common tote among New Yorkers who, sans cars, must carry their bottles of water, books, and snacks around town with them somehow. Even more menacing: the backpacks were “new.” I don’t know about you, but items cluttering almost any American home hardly spell “terrorist” to me. If touching a scale and batteries or buying backpacks has become a criminal act, we’d all better hunt a good lawyer. Or perhaps they’re only criminal acts for Moslems.

One piece of evidence authorities didn’t uncover in all this searching is the bomb Najib was supposedly concocting. There were no explosives in his home, those of his family and friends, or in his car. The Feds claim they did find traces of acetone in the kitchenette of a hotel room Najib rented: that supposedly proves he was cooking up explosives from the ingredients he’d bought. But acetone is a common solvent.

This embarrassing lack has cops resorting to “the-dog-ate-my-homework” sort of excuses the rest of us abandoned after grade school: “One possibility being considered by counterterrorism agents is that whatever device or devices were built in the hotel room, they were detonated at some isolated location in Colorado as a test run of the bomb recipe. In recent weeks, agents in that area have been searching for a possible location of such a test explosion, the two officials said.” We all know how fiendishly clever terrorists are, but come on: Najib managed to shake his heavy surveillance so he could set off loud BOOMS raising very noticeable plumes of smoke and debris? Why am I reminded of Lt. Dunbar and his fire that alerts his Indian neighbors in Dances With Wolves? Alas, and not surprisingly, the “search for a possible location” has yielded zip.

When Najib flew from New York back to Colorado, “authorities” interrogated him for three days before arresting him. “Why would I have an issue with America?” their bewildered victim asked the media covering this circus. “Nobody wants to leave America. People die to come here.” He told another reporter, “’This is one of the best countries in the world. … It gives you every single right.’” Except when its regime needs a foil to justify its tyranny.

Najib withstood the Federal thumbscrews until the government dragged his mother into things. Since then he’s been “cooperating,” to America’s vast shame. Meanwhile, the Feds distract us from their brutality, their persecution of a taxpayer without many resources who’s desperately sacrificing himself for his family, by turning the case into a debate over trying “terrorists” in civilian versus military courts. Beneath such unconstitutional heartlessness lie the ruins of a young man’s life, his hopes and dreams and blasted future.

It’s difficult to assess the government’s allegations when it withholds so much. Despite its lies, its trumped-up “evidence,” and its spurning of Constitutional search warrants for the fishing expeditions FISA and the Patriot Act allow, Najib may be guilty. Perhaps he really was about to bomb New York’s subways. But we’re unlikely ever to know: in the best tradition of the Star Chamber and in violation of the Sixth Amendment, the Feds throw the cloak of “national security” around cases like this and operate largely in secret. Maybe they really are concerned about the country’s safety. But secrecy also hides ginned-up accusations, sloppy investigations, arbitrary whims, and tyranny. Meanwhile, officials insist we trust them, that we accept their judgment rather than weigh the evidence for ourselves: “Holder offered no new details of the investigation, but said the case has shown counterterrorism agencies succeeded in disrupting the plot.”

“There are people both in this country and also abroad who are committed to harming the American people and they’re actively plotting to do so,” Holder intoned last October. Yep. And like the Attorney General, they work for the U.S. government.

Becky Akers, an expert on the American Revolution, writes frequently about issues related to security and privacy. Her articles and columns have been published by, The Freeman, Military History Magazine, American History Magazine, the Christian Science Monitor, the New York Post, and other publications.

Reprinted with permission. Originally published at