Najibullah Zazi's attorney says the 24-year-old airport shuttle driver has never met with al-Qaida operatives and isn't involved in terrorism. Zazi completed a third day of questioning by FBI agents in Denver Friday but was not under arrest and was allowed to return to his apartment.
A senior U.S. intelligence official in Washington told The Associated Press Friday that Zazi has indicated that he is directly linked with al-Qaida. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity in order to discuss intelligence matters, said Zazi played a crucial role in an intended terrorist attack but that it was not immediately clear what the targets were.
The official went on to say that the plot was being directed from outside the United States.
"Absolutely no way, it's a rumor," Zazi's attorney Arthur Folsom said as he returned to his office late Friday of the official linking Zazi to a terrorist plot.
Zazi has undergone hours of questioning this week, and his apartment and his uncle and aunt's home in suburban Denver have been searched.
Authorities have not said what they found and have made no public statements on the investigation.
Zazi hasn't been arrested, and Folsom, says he doesn't expect him to be.
Another official familiar with the investigation told the AP on Thursday that Zazi had contact with a known al-Qaida associate. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing, would not provide details on the location or nature of the encounter.
The official said agents have been monitoring Zazi and four others in Colorado as part of a terrorism investigation.
FBI agents in Denver questioned Zazi's father, Mohammed Zazi, on Friday about his son's background, said attorney Armstrong Graham.
Asked by reporters if his son was frightened, Mohammed Zazi said: "If you don't have anything, why would you be scared?" He refused to answer more questions.
FBI spokeswoman Kathy Wright said she couldn't comment. It wasn't immediately known whether Mohammed Zazi was one of the four others in Colorado being monitored by the FBI.
Folsom told The Denver Post the agents aren't repeating questions to Zazi but are asking different things.
"They are going through things - the best I can describe it is chronologically. Covering all the bases," Folsom said.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder insisted Friday there was no immediate danger.
"There are no imminent threats, on the basis of what we have uncovered," Holder told reporters in Minneapolis. "The FBI is working this case around the clock in both cities and in other parts of the country. And we will make sure that if there are crimes that were committed that they will be charged and people will be held accountable."
Najibullah Zazi is a driver for an airport shuttle service in Denver. Authorities say he rented a car and drove from Denver to New York, crossing into Manhattan the day before the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.