“The government should know better by now,” said Mr. Kacem, an imam at a local mosque. “It has been eight years since Sept. 11, and our government still overacts sometimes when it comes to Muslims.”
As an investigation into a possible terrorist plot against New York City focused increasingly last week on a local Afghani shuttle bus driver, some Muslims in and around this Denver suburb have grown uneasy, saying they are concerned that law enforcement officials are going too far because the case involves a Muslim. But others say that even if Muslims here feel that they are being unfairly targeted, law enforcement officials are obligated to follow any leads, wherever they might lead, and that in this case the F.B.I. has acted appropriately so far.
“We have to be patient and coolheaded,” said Mohammad Noorzai, a former president of the Colorado Muslim Society, whose small campus straddles Denver and Aurora. “In the end, if there is evidence that somebody has done something wrong, they have to be held accountable regardless of their ethnic background. I think they need to pursue everything, and many of us agree with that.”
The man the authorities say is at the center of the investigation, Najibullah Zazi, 24, initially denied any wrongdoing and voluntarily submitted to days of questioning by the F.B.I. last week. According to government officials who have been briefed on the case, Mr. Zazi had begun cooperating with the authorities after three days of questioning by F.B.I. agents. He reportedly admitted that he might have perhaps unwittingly crossed paths in Pakistan with extremists allied with Al Qaeda. And, the officials said, based on Mr. Zazi’s statements to the agents, there are now some indications that he underwent training in explosives and bomb-making while overseas.
On Saturday afternoon, The Associated Press said Mr. Zazi had so far failed to show up to a meeting with the F.B.I. scheduled for that morning. A voice message for Wendy Aiello, a spokeswoman for Zazi’s defense team, said Zazi’s attorneys would be issuing a statement later Saturday.
Mr. Zazi has not been charged with any crime, and neither federal nor New York officials have publicly explained why or how they became interested in him.
The questioning came after searches by federal agents of Mr. Zazi’s Aurora apartment, his relatives’ home nearby and homes connected to Mr. Zazi in Queens. With the Ramadan holiday winding down, word of the inquiry has spread throughout the more than 10,000 Muslims who have settled in Aurora and parts of Denver. “Colorado has always been seen as a good place to raise a family,” Mr. Noorzai said.
Unlike Muslim centers in other cities, there is no true Muslim neighborhood here, but rather a patchwork of markets, restaurants and mosques among the strip malls that line Aurora’s broad boulevards. Over the years, the Muslim population has grown — with immigrants from Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Somalia pulled by the lure of ample jobs, the word of a relative or the promise of a quieter life.
Mr. Zazi moved from Queens to Aurora, a city of about 300,000, and drives an airport shuttle van. Although details of the investigation are still murky — federal authorities shadowing Mr. Zazi apparently grew alarmed after a recent cross-country trip he took to New York City — the question of Mr. Zazi’s guilt or innocence is overshadowed for many by a feeling that the F.B.I.’s search of his home, in a modest apartment complex, was too much.
Those who know Mr. Zazi describe him as quiet and unassuming, said Darin Mangnall, a lawyer who represents taxi drivers and who once represented Mr. Zazi in a minor traffic accident.
“My experience is that a lot of these guys are working hard,” he said. “A lot of them have wives and children that are still living in their home country. They don’t smoke. They don’t drink. They don’t do anything but drive a taxi out here. I have a lot of sympathy for them.”
Mr. Noorzai, the former president of the organization, said many local Muslims were trying to figure out whether anyone knew Mr. Zazi, and whether he did anything wrong.
“If this guy is innocent, then our community is going to feel like we are being singled out,” he said.
While we’re on the subject, are you aware that “Mohammed” is now the number one name for boys in London, Copenhagen, Oslo, Brussels and Amsterdam? And in Britain, Muslemen’s numbers are increasing ten times faster than that of any other group. Just saying ….