Queens Imam Released, Investigation Gets Curiouser and Curiouser


The Queens imam charged with lying to the feds during their investigation into a possible terrorist bombing plot is now back on the street — sort of.

Ahmad Wais Afzali is out on a $1.5-million bond, but he’ll be electronically monitored and can only travel to work, religious services and to see his lawyer, Ron Kuby.

Afzali’s accused of tipping off 24-year-old Afghan immigrant Najibullah Zazi, a Colorado resident who’s now been charged with plotting to set off improvised explosive devices within the U.S. Prosecutors say bomb-making instructions were found on his laptop and that he had sought help in setting his plans in motion during a recent trip to Queens. One report says Zazi was using stolen credit cards to buy the materials he’d need. Prosecutors also say Zazi used a hotel room in Colorado to try cooking up explosives before his latest visit to New York City.

Afzali insists he never helped Zazi. In fact, Afzali’s been working with the government as a community liaison for some time. During a statement made outside his home yesterday, he said, “I was raised an American, I’m an American since I was 7 years old, and next 14 days I’m going to be 38 years old. My whole family is American citizens so please, before we judge in the papers, media and TV, know the facts from fiction.”

The Associated Press meanwhile is pointing out the obvious: That Afzali’s arrest may strain the already tense relationship between law enforcement and the local Muslim community — and make it harder to get cooperation for these sorts of investigations in the future.

Then there’s the ongoing saga of the possible NYPD screw-up that could have led to Zazi being tipped off in the first place. Yesterday, we told you that a complaint was filed alleging that police jumped the gun on Afzali, leading him to supposedly warn Zazi that the law was onto him. A senior official has now been moved out of the police anti-terrorism unit to another position. But Mayor Bloomberg says one isn’t related to the other.

“The police commissioner moves his people around to make sure that they share experiences and skills. And any personnel moves the police commissioner makes, it’s between he and I,” he says.

Topping it all off, NBC is pointing a camera and mic at anyone they see and finding that reaction to the alleged terror plot is — insouciant.

Happy Friday morning, New York.