Obstruction Trial for Father of Najibullah Zazi Begins Monday

The trial of Mohammed Wali Zazi, father of admitted terrorist Najibullah Zazi (the airport van driver from Denver), charged with obstucting justice by lying to investigators about his son's activities and tampering with and destroying evidence to cover up his son's actions, begins tomorrow in federal court in Brooklyn.

The elder Zazi's brother-in-law, Naqib Jaji, will testify for the Government. The defense has said it will call Najibullah Zazi, who cooperated with the Government, pleaded guilty and has not yet been sentenced. Mohammed and Najibullah have not spoken in two years. [More...]

The defendant faces trial on three counts:

  • Count One - conspiring to obstruct justice, in violation of 18 U.S.C.§ 1512(k), with two objects, destroying physical evidence,
    contrary to 18 U.S.C. § 1512©(1), and obstructing, influencing and impeding official proceedings, contrary to 18 U.S.C. § 1512©(2);
  • Count Two - destroying physical evidence, in
    violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1512©(1); and
  • Count Five - aiding and abetting the impeding of the due administration of justice through the provision of false information, in violation of 18
    U.S.C. §§ 2 and 1503(a).

His lawyer writes in a motion to dismiss:

Mr. Zazi is not accused of assisting Najibullah or even knowing in advance about his plot. Rather, the government alleges that, after Najibullah abandoned his plans, Mr. Zazi conspired to destroy physical evidence, lied to FBI agents, and encouraged family members to lie to a federal grand jury in New York.

The defense successfully moved to dismiss several counts, leaving just these three. The Government has said it would refile them in either the District of Colorado or the Southern District of New York.

This promises to be an interesting trial, particularly if Najibullah Zazi is called to testify for his father when the Government still holds the card of what sentence to recoommend for him. The defense has said it intends to call Najibullah to "rebut any potential argument that Mohammed Zazi knew or had suspicions about Najibullah's plot."

From a defense perspective, it's too bad Najibullah's first lawyer brought him in for questioning.

Our past coverage of the Zazi cases is assembled here, here and here.

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