A store clerk’s curiosity about why Najibullah Zazi was buying large quantities of beauty products was an example of the kind of citizen vigilance that can help combat terrorism, law enforcement officials say. Los Angeles Police Department Commander Joan McNamara cited the recent case at a Denver meeting of police chiefs, who adopted “iWatch,” a model for a nationwide community watch program that teaches people to identify suspicious behavior and encourages them to report it, reports the Associated Press.
Federal authorities allege that Zazi, 24, bought beauty supplies from Denver-area stores in order to make explosives. He has been jailed in New York on charges of conspiracy to detonate a weapon of mass destruction. Zazi reportedly told an inquisitive clerk that he needed a large amount of cosmetic chemicals because he had “lots of girlfriends.” His purchases weren’t reported to authorities, but the police chiefs said they hoped a coordinated publicity effort would make people think differently about such encounters. The Major Cities Chiefs Association, composed of the chiefs of the 63 largest police departments in the U.S. and Canada, endorsed iWatch at the group’s conference Saturday.