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Terror suspect stocked up beauty supplies

  • Story Highlights
  • U.S. says Najibullah Zazi, 24, received bomb-making instructions in Pakistan
  • Federal grand jury indicts Zazi on one count of conspiring to use bombs in U.S.
  • Government wants to move Zazi from Colorado to New York, calls him flight risk
  • Zazi, two others arrested earlier, accused of lying to federal agents in terror inquiry
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AURORA, Colorado (CNN) -- An Afghan-born Colorado man charged with plotting to make bombs from household chemicals made several recent purchases from beauty supply stores in suburban Denver, telling workers he had "a lot of girlfriends," employees said Thursday.

Najibullah Zazi, 24, has been indicted on a charge of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction in the U.S.

Najibullah Zazi, 24, has been indicted on a charge of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction in the U.S.

Najibullah Zazi, now charged with plotting to set off "weapons of mass destruction" in the United States was "a regular" at the Beauty Supply Warehouse in Aurora, Colorado, one store worker said.

Another worker, who identified himself only as Oscar, said Zazi made several recent purchases and told workers he had "a lot of girlfriends."

Employees at several beauty supply stores in Aurora told CNN that federal agents visited their stores as part of the investigation, which led to Zazi's arrest Saturday. Some of the visits by federal agents were as recent as last week, they said.

Federal agents visited at least two other stores in recent weeks, workers at those stores told CNN, while workers at a third store said they received phone calls from the FBI. Store workers said agents showed them photographs of several people during one visit, and a worker at one store said he recognized Zazi after seeing pictures of him on television. Video Exclusive: Denver suspect caught on tape »

Zazi, 24, was arrested at his Aurora home Saturday night and charged with lying to FBI agents in connection with the probe. A federal grand jury in New York indicted him on one count of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction -- bombs -- against unspecified targets within the the United States, the Justice Department announced. No co-conspirators were identified in the indictment.

"We are investigating a wide range of leads related to this alleged conspiracy, and we will continue to work around the clock to ensure that anyone involved is brought to justice," Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement. "We believe any imminent threat arising from this case has been disrupted, but as always, we remind the American public to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to law enforcement."

The Justice Department is working to have Zazi transferred from Colorado to New York to be arraigned. If convicted, he faces a potential sentence of life in prison.

Zazi's father, 53-year-old Mohammed Wali Zazi, also from suburban Denver, and Ahmad Wais Afzali, a 37-year-old Muslim cleric and funeral director from the New York borough of Queens, also have been charged with lying to federal agents in the case. Both have been released on bond, while federal agents asked that Najibullah Zazi be held without bail.

According to the indictment, nine pages of notes found on Najibullah Zazi's laptop computer include formulas for making triacetone triperoxide, or TATP. The highly volatile, highly explosive compound can be made from widely available chemicals, including acetone -- the main ingredient in nail polish remover -- hydrogen peroxide, flour and muriatic acid, a diluted form of hydrochloric acid used to clean metal.

TATP was used in the 2005 London transit bombings, the 2001 Richard Reid "shoe bomb" plot and other overseas attacks. The indictment states Zazi conducted Internet research on components for explosives and made several purchases of substances that can be used to make TATP and other explosives.

According to GlobalSecurity.org, an online resource for security information, TATP is extremely sensitive to impact, temperature change and friction. Just a few hundred grams of the material produce hundreds of liters of gas in a fraction of a second, the Web site reports.

The government's motion for a permanent order of detention requests no bail for Zazi, calling him a flight risk. Court papers filed in support of that motion provide a number of insights into his movements and activities, saying he has extensive ties to Afghanistan and that his wife and children apparently live in Pakistan.

Zazi "and others" traveled to Pakistan in August 2008, returning in January 2009. While in Pakistan, he attended courses and received instructions on weapons and explosives at an al Qaeda training facility in one of Pakistan's northwestern tribal districts, federal authorities have said.

Zazi moved to the Denver area from New York shortly after returning in January and lived with family members. His father moved to Aurora in July, and they moved in together, the detention motion states.

In July and August, Zazi and unidentified others associated with him bought "unusually large quantities of hydrogen peroxide and acetone products from beauty supply stores" in the Denver area, the detention motion states. Notes found on his computer mention that acetone is found in nail polish remover and hydrogen peroxide can be found in "Hair Salon 20-30 percent," and the "bomb-making notes contemplate heating the components in order to make them highly concentrated."

"The notes discuss formulations for mixing hydrogen peroxide with flour, and list ghee oil as a type of fuel that can be used to help initiate the explosive device," the government states. Ghee is clarified butter most often used in Indian cuisine.

In the documents, federal agents said Zazi checked into a hotel suite in Aurora that has a stove on August 28, the same day he was seen on surveillance video purchasing 12 large bottles of "Ms K Liquid 40 Volume," a peroxide-based product. He checked back into the same hotel suite September 6 to 7. Testing later revealed the presence of acetone residue in the vent above the stove.

And Zazi searched the Web site of a home improvement store near the Flushing neighborhood of Queens for muriatic acid on September 8, the documents state. The following day, he started driving from Colorado to New York City in a rental car with his laptop, the memo says.

He arrived in Flushing, Queens, on September 10 and then allegedly became suspicious he was being tracked by law enforcement. He purchased an airline ticket and returned to Denver on September 12, two days before he was scheduled to turn in his car in New York.

He spent the night of September 10 at a Queens residence, where federal agents later found his fingerprints on a scale that FBI experts say could be used to weigh the ingredients for explosives.

Originally from Afghanistan, Najibullah Zazi and Afzali and are permanent legal residents of the United States. Mohammed Wali Zazi is a naturalized U.S. citizen.

Thursday, a federal magistrate in New York ordered Afzali released on bond. His attorney, Ron Kuby, said his client was trying to help investigators find Najibullah Zazi, whose family attended his mosque several years ago.

Kuby said the imam "consistently cooperated" with police in previous investigations and now "feels ill-used."

"He did his very best to do what they wanted him to do," Kuby told reporters outside the courthouse. "And because he cooperated, he ended up here."

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He said investigators didn't supply Afzali with any details of why they were looking for Zazi or give him any instructions about what to bring up or avoid if he reached him.

Afzali's parents are putting up their home in Queens to secure his $1.5 million bail. He will be allowed to travel to the funeral home to work and the mosque to worship. Additional travel will be allowed on a case-by-case basis.

CNN's Katie Glaeser contributed to this report

All About ColoradoU.S. Department of JusticeTerrorism

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