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October 2009
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How to Become a Bounty Hunter

Joint Terrorism Task Force Lost Terror Suspect on NY Subway During Surveillance

With most investigations, there’s always that ooops moment investigators hope doesn’t amount to much. The question is: Did this one amount to much? Unclear.


By Mark Hosenball
WASHINGTON — In the tense final days before the FBI arrested Afghan-American Najibullah Zazi on terror-conspiracy charges, the Feds had a major scare: NEWSWEEK has learned that Zazi managed to shake off the posse of Joint Terrorism Task Force investigators who were tailing him and disappeared for anywhere between 40 and 90 minutes.

Now the Feds worry that during the time he was missing, Zazi could have ordered associates to get rid of a suspected cache of bombmaking materials that they believe the suspects had amassed.

Two knowledgeable sources, who asked for anonymity when speaking about an ongoing inquiry, say that on Sept. 10, investigators pulled over Zazi for what they claimed was a random drug stop on the George Washington Bridge to New York City. It’s unclear why they stopped him, or what, if anything, Zazi told them.

But he may have grown suspicious, they say, because the next day he slipped the surveillance team during a ride on the New York subway. As one official put it: the investigators “freaked out,” in part because it was the anniversary of 9/11 and they feared Zazi’s plan might have been to launch his attack on the New York transit system that day.

The surveillance team eventually found Zazi. But investigators now want to know if, during the missing minutes, he somehow arranged for evidence of the alleged plot to be hidden or destroyed.

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