Man On 24-Hr Surveillance in Terror Case Denies Terrorist Connections

Naiz Khan says backpacks, scale found in his apartment not for attack.

September 30, 2009, 11:35 AM

Sept. 30, 2009— -- A Manhattan coffee cart operator currently under 24-hour surveillance by federal agents told ABC News he is not affiliated with al Qaeda and that about one dozen black backpacks and a small scale found in his apartment, identified as suspicious in court documents, are purely coincidental. Facts in the case that have led officials to keep him under constant watch, he said, have been misconstrued.

"I am not a terrorist," said Naiz Khan, 27.


First, there's the fact that Khan let Najibullah Zazi, the 24-year-old at the center of an alleged bomb terror plot, stay at his Queens, NY apartment Sept. 10. He was also in Pakistan at the same time as Zazi last year. And when FBI agents raided his apartment two weeks ago, they say they found the backpacks that might be used to carry bombs and the scale that could be used to measure ingredients for a bomb.

"It was just by chance that [Zazi] came to our house" that night, Khan told ABC News.

Khan, who came to the U.S. in 1999 as a high school student, said he and his five roommates have no idea where the scale came from and had not seen it before.

The backpacks, Khan said, belong to his uncle, Faiz Mohammed, who said he got them for free from an acquaintance who acquired them through a wholesale business and that he planned to bring them to family members in Pakistan.

When he sat down with ABC News at its New York studio, where four teams of undercover agents followed him and sat outside unit he left before following him home, Khan said he saw Zazi at the local mosque, Masjidi Hazrat I Abubakr, Sept. 10. He said Zazi told him he had come to New York from Colorado because he had "a coffee truck problem for the permit" he owned in New York.

Khan said Zazi, who he got to know when they were both growing up in Queens, NY, asked if he could stay at his apartment for the night on Sept. 10 and he obliged, something he said is common in their Afghan culture.

Since Khan wanted to stay late at the mosque, another man staying at his apartment gave Zazi a lift to Khan's home.

"[Zazi] was asleep when I got home," said Khan, who added that he left home to work his own coffee cart without speaking to Zazi again.

Growing Up in Queens

As teenagers, Khan said he and Zazi used to play pool and computer games and that Zazi was interested in brand names – "nice clothes, nice shoes, everything," Khan said. Khan lives about a five minute drive from Zazi's former home.

He adamantly denies any connection to the alleged terror plot or al Qaeda, and said he will continue to cooperate with the FBI.

"If they need me, I'm here…to cooperate 100 percent," Khan said. "If I have something, I will tell them."

Bilal Sarwary is a student at Middlebury College and has worked as a freelance journalist for the BBC in Afghanistan.

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