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Colo. Terror Suspect Appears In Court

MADELEINE BRAND, host:

The three men arrested last week in connection with an alleged terrorist plot appeared in federal courts today. One man, the imam of a mosque in Queens appeared in New York. He was ordered held without bail. The other two, an airport shuttle driver and his father went before a federal judge in Denver.

NPR's Jeff Brady was in that courtroom and he's with us now. Hi, Jeff.

JEFF BRADY: Hello.

BRAND: This was Najibullah Zazi and his father Mohammed Zazi in court there in Denver. What happened today?

BRADY: Well, they were both (unintelligible) in handcuffs and they remained in handcuffs throughout the half-hour court appearance. The primary purpose of the court appearance today was to advise both the men of their rights, their Fifth Amendment right not to say anything, that sort of thing.

The federal prosecutor agreed to release the father, Mohammed Zazi as long as there's electronic monitoring so they know where he is all the time. The prosecutor asked the court to keep Najibullah Zazi detained. The government will have to justify that request at a hearing on Thursday. That will be a detention hearing, Thursday morning. In the meantime, Najibullah Zazi will be kept at a federal detention facility outside Denver.

BRAND: And how did the two men appeared today during the hearing?

BRADY: You know, it looks like they're wearing the same cloths today that they were arrested in late Saturday night. And the father, Mohammed Zazi, he appeared confused at times. His government-appointed attorney asked the judge for a Pashtun interpreter for future hearings, so there may have been a little bit of a language problem there.

Najibullah Zazi was quiet and composed. He has a very soft voice. He's only 24 years old. And one thing I noticed that Najibullah Zazi - he never looked at his father during the whole hearing, even though they were sitting across the table from one another. He just never looked at him, as far as I could tell.

BRAND: Mm-hmm. Now, can you just remind us again what the government alleges these men were up to?

BRADY: Yeah. Both of the men are charged with lying to federal investigators during a terrorism investigation. But it's clear that the FBI is worried about a lot more than that. And affidavits from the FBI says that Najibullah Zazi, that's the son, told them that he attended an al-Qaida training camp in Pakistan in 2008, where he learned about explosives and weapons. And they also found documents on his computer that show how to make a bomb. So, there are just some - certainly some bigger concerns that a lot we don't know, but maybe we'll learn more at that hearing on Thursday.

BRAND: Right. Thank you very much. That's NPR's Jeff Brady at the federal courthouse in Denver.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

Just how awkward did things got when President Obama was in the same room today with New York governor, David Paterson? That story is coming up on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.

Jeff Brady is a National Desk Correspondent based in Philadelphia, where he covers energy issues and climate change. Brady helped establish NPR's environment and energy collaborative which brings together NPR and Member station reporters from across the country to cover the big stories involving the natural world.