NEW YORK CITY -- Officials from the Federal Bureau of Investigation are claiming that the New York City Police Department's Intelligence Division acted without the FBI's knowledge and may have caused a failure in the surveillance of a terrorism suspect and compromised a bomb plot investigation.
According to a criminal complaint, at a sensitive stage of the investigation, by questioning an imam about the suspect, the NYPD acted without informing their FBI counterparts.
At least one of the police detectives being singled out in the FBI's complaint is assigned to the NYPD Intelligence Division and not the NYPD-FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). The Intel Division is responsible for organized crime, terrorism and other special projects and is not connected to the FBI-run JTTF.
The FBI complaint suggests the local cops may have tipped off Najibullah Zazi , a 24-year-old Denver airport shuttle driver, by towing, and then searching, a rental car he was using while in New York City. The police search succeeded in uncovering a laptop computer containing bomb making instructions on its hard drive.
The FBI contends this tipped off the suspect because during a telephone phone conversation with Ahmad Wais Afzali, Zazi stated the car's removal caused him to believe he was being kept under surveillance.
Members of the JTTF and officials at One Police Plaza in Manhattan said they could not comment on the alleged friction between FBI agents and NYPD detectives and the department's spokesman, Paul Browne, told reporters simply that "the NYPD and the FBI worked closely and successfully in this case and in scores of others." He declined further comment as did Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.