NEW YORK -- President Barack Obama praised the police department on Saturday for its work in disrupting a possible terrorist bombing plot aimed at commuter trains.
Obama dialed in to a counterterrorism briefing the New York
Police Department was giving his counterterrorism and homeland
security adviser to thank the police for their "outstanding" work
during the U.N. General Assembly and the ongoing terrorism
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said afterward.
"The president told the NYPD that he is particularly grateful
for the exceptional teamwork that has been abundantly evident over
the past several weeks with other police departments and with
federal departments and agencies," Gibbs said.
NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly and members of the NYPD's
Intelligence Division and Counter Terrorism Bureau were briefing
Obama adviser John Brennan on the ongoing investigation that led to
the arrest of Najibullah Zazi, a Denver airport shuttle driver
who's accused of conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction.
Zazi, an Afghan immigrant, had at least 18 bottles of
peroxide-based hair lighteners and pages of notes for how to turn
the beauty products into bombs, authorities say.
He has publicly proclaimed his innocence. His attorney says
claims he planned an attack in New York City are missing a key
element - explosives or the chemicals used to make them.
A recently unsealed criminal complaint had suggested that police
acting without the FBI's knowledge might have compromised the
investigation and helped blow the surveillance of Zazi by
questioning a Muslim religious leader about him. A top commander in
the Intelligence Division was transferred after the investigation
became public and concerns were raised about detectives'
questioning of the Queens imam, who's accused of tipping off Zazi
to the investigation.
The imam and Zazi's father face charges of lying to terrorism
investigators; they deny the allegations.
Federal and NYPD investigators are seeking additional suspects.
Authorities have issued a flurry of terrorism warnings for sports
complexes, hotels and transit systems based on their investigation.