An Afghan immigrant accused of plotting a terrorist attack in New York after receiving training in Pakistan was in contact with a senior al-Qaida operative, intelligence officials familiar with the investigation told The Associated Press.
The CIA learned about Najibullah Zazi through one of its sources and alerted domestic agencies, including the FBI, intelligence officials said.
US intelligence organizations first became aware of Zazi in late August, a senior administration official said. Interest in Zazi surfaced just weeks before prosecutors claim he was planning to strike on the anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
The intelligence and administration officials declined to offer more details on the operative and spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.
The fact that intelligence officials learned of Zazi through a CIA source sheds more light on the government's claim that the charges against him are part of a broader, international case, and begins to explain why the investigation triggered such a large offensive from the nation's intelligence community.