One of three men charged with lying to federal agents during a terrorism probe warned a co-defendant that their phone call was being monitored, according to court papers.
All three face court appearances Monday in a case that the Justice Department said stretches from Colorado and New York to Pakistan.
"I was exposed to something yesterday from the authorities," Afzali told Najibullah Zazi in a September 11 call. "And they came to ask me about your characters. They asked me about you guys ... I told them that they are innocent, law-abiding."
Afzali said, however, called the questions from police "a good sign."
"The bad sign is for them coming to you guys and picking you up automatically," he said. And he told the younger Zazi, "Don't get into the Afghanistan garbage, Iraq garbage ... Listen, our phone call is being monitored."
The probe emerged after a series of raids in Queens last Monday, three days after the intercepted phone calls. A police stop of Najibullah Zazi during a visit to New York had raised investigators' concern that he would discover he was under surveillance, a former counterterrorism official familiar with the investigation told CNN last week.
Najibullah Zazi, who spent three days being questioned by FBI agents last week, and his father were arrested Saturday night in the Denver, Colorado, suburb of Aurora, the Justice Department said.
Zazi, 24, and his 53-year-old father are expected to make their first appearance in a Colorado federal court Monday, while Afzali, 37, is scheduled to appear in a New York court the same day. All three are originally from Afghanistan. Muhammed Wali Zazi is a naturalized U.S. citizen, while Afzali and Najibullah Zazi are permanent legal residents. If convicted, each faces eight years in prison.
However, federal agents have "no specific information regarding the timing, location or target of any planned attack," David Kris, the assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement announcing the arrests Saturday night.