Terror Suspect with Ties to Visalia Caught in FBI Dragnet

September 26, 2009 12:01:20 AM PDT
Federal investigators are going after several men in a series of bomb plots across the country, and one of the investigations may lead them to Visalia.On the right side of Talib Islam's MySpace page, he lists his hometown as Visalia. The 29-year-old was also known as Michael Finton. He was arrested in an FBI sting operation in Springfield, Illinois.

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Friday afternoon, 24-year-old Najibullah Zazi, boarded a US Marshals plane bound for New York, the same city federal agents say he and other suspects planned to attack.

ABC News Counterterrorism Consultant Richard Clarke said, "I think this is as close as we've come since 9/11 to having a major terrorist attack on U.S. Territory."

Zazi was initially charged in Colorado with lying to a federal agent. But those charges were dropped on Friday. He now faces more serious terrorism charges in New York. Officials say he shopped at beauty stores for bomb supplies that contained some of the same ingredients used in the 2005 London attacks.

ABC News Counterterrorism Consultant Brad Garrett said, "It's so readily available and it flies under the radar when you purchase it."

According to a U.S. prosecutor, Zazi may have been planning to put several hydrogen peroxide bombs on commuter trains on or around the September 11th anniversary. But federal authorities foiled that plan and two unrelated terror plots in other parts of the country.

Thousands of people were inside a 60-story skyscraper in Downtown Dallas Thursday when the FBI says 19-year-old Hosam Smadi, an illegal immigrant from Jordan, was trying to blow it up. Authorities say he parked what he thought was a powerful car bomb in the tower's basement. But it was a sting operation. The bomb was fake ... and so were the explosives in Springfield, Illinois, where the FBI was coordinating another sting operation. Officials say Michael Finton, also known as Talib Islam was trying to blow up the federal courthouse.

In both the Illinois and Dallas cases, decoy devices were given to the men by FBI agents posing as Al-Qaida operatives. Both face up to life in prison if convicted.

ABC News Contributed to this Report

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