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Another Terror Conviction in Federal Court

Adis Medunjanian, a U.S. citizen, was convicted by a New York federal court jury yesterday of plotting to attack the New York subway system with two of his high school classmates, Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay. Zazi and Ahmedzay had pleaded guilty earlier and testified against Medunjanian in exchange for a lesser sentence.

Medunjanian, originally from Bosnia, emigrated here with his family. His mother and sister, a nurse, testified on his behalf at trial.

The plot began after the defendant, Adis Medunjanin, a naturalized citizen born in Bosnia, went to Pakistan with two friends from high school with the intention of fighting American troops in Afghanistan. The two friends testified that they were instead recruited to attend a Qaeda training camp, where they were told they would be far more valuable to their cause by returning to the United States to carry out an act of terrorism.

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Najibullah Zazi Testifies for Government in Terrorism Trial

Najibullah Zazi testified today in the trial of Adis Medunjanin, his alleged co-plotter in a planned attack on the New York subway system.

In his opening on Monday, defense attorney Robert Gottlieb accused the government of using “inflammatory rhetoric” about al-Qaida and terrorism to prevent jurors “from seeing the truth about this case.” The lawyer conceded his client had sought to support the Taliban’s struggle against U.S. forces in Afghanistan, but denied he ever agreed to kill American civilians for al-Qaida.

“The truth is that Adis Medunjanin is not a terrorist,” he said. “Mr. Medunjanin never planned to bomb the New York City subways.”

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Judge Refuses to Sentence Najibullah Zazi's Father as Terrorist

Mohammed Zazi, father of Najibullah Zazi, the Colorado resident convicted in New York of planning a subway terror attack, was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison today for obstruction of justice (lying to the FBI), conspiring to destroy his son's chemicals, goggles and paper masks (stored at his brother-in-law's house) and visa fraud. The visa fraud pertained to his falsely stating on on a visa application for his nephew that his nephew was his son. (Zazi came to the U.S. in 1990 and in 2007 became a naturalized U.S. Citizen.)

Prosecutors asked for 30 years, seeking to have him sentenced as a terrorist under the Sentencing Guidelines. The probation department agreed and concluded his guidelines were 360 months to life. Zazi asked for probation.

The judge rejected the request to sentence him as a terrorist. While he told Zazi his lies could have cost a lot of lives, he concluded "He wanted to keep his kid out of jail." [More...]

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In Depth Report on Najibullah Zazi Case

5280 Magazine has an in-depth report on how events unfolded in the "home grown" terrorism case of Najibullah Zazi. Zazi's first lawyer, who allowed the FBI to extensively question Zazi, discusses his strategy. Zazi, who has pleaded guilty and cooperated but not been sentenced, apparently is in the witness protection program and hoping for a sentence to less than life and a new identity when he's released. [More...]

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Father of Najibullah Zazi Convicted at Obstruction Trial

Mohammed Wali Zazi, father of admitted terrorist Najibullah Zazi, was convicted by a federal jury in Brooklyn today of two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of conspiring to obstruct justice by lying to investigators and the grand jury and destroying or hiding evidence to cover up his son's aborted plan to place bombs in the New York subway system.

The case featured the testimony of two other family members who pleaded guilty and agreed to testify for the government to stave off stiff prison terms. They detailed the family's failure to acknowledge Zazi as a budding terrorist and its clumsy attempts to protect him once his plot fell apart.

The defense argued the two relatives of Zazi, who testified against him in exchange for leniency for their own participation, were lying. In the jury instructions they submitted to the Court, the defense argued the government did not accuse Mr. Zazi of destroying any physical evidence himself and conceded he was not even present during the alleged destruction. (They said the government’s theory was that Mr. Zazi aided and abetted others' destruction of physical evidence and that he wasn't guilty of aiding and abetting because Mr. Zazi did not share the specific intent of those who physically committed the crime.) [More..]

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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...]

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Another Guilty Plea in NY Zazi Terror Case

Zarein Ahmedzay, a high school friend of Najibullah Zazi's who traveled to Pakistan with him, has pleaded guilty in federal court in Brooklyn to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction.

He said he, admitted plotter Najibullah Zazi and a third, unidentified man met with the leaders in Pakistan in in the summer of 2008, where they offered to join the Taliban and fight U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

''They told us we would be more useful if we returned to New York City ... to conduct operations,'' he said. Asked by the judge what kind of operations, he responded, ''Suicide-bombing operations.''

Ahmedzay faces a maximum life sentence but his lawyer says he expects a benefit from his guilty plea.

The third friend, Adis Medunjanin, is still fighting the charges. His lawyer says his case is different.

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Iman in Zazi Case Sentenced to Time Served, Issues Remain Who Blew Investigation

Iman Ahmad Wais Afzali, an Afgan who grew up in this country and is lawfully present in the U.S., and who cooperated with the NYPD in the investigation into Najibullah Zazi, was sentenced today in federal court in Brooklyn to time served, and given 90 days to self-deport.

The question remains: Did the FBI blow its investigation by its clumsy car stop of Zazi as he was driving into New York on September 10? The Government denies it, Afzali, in his sentencing memorandum and a letter to the court (both available on PACER) insists it is true. [More...]

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New Details, New Suspect in Zazi NYC Terror Plot

The New York Daily News reports new details in the Najibullah Zazi terror plot against New York City. The attack was planned for Sept. 14, 15 or 16:

Zazi and his two Queens friends allegedly planned to strap explosives to their bodies and split up, heading for the Grand Central and Times Square stations - the two busiest subway stations in New York City.

They would board trains on the 1, 2, 3 and 6 lines at rush hour and planned to position themselves in the middle of the packed trains to ensure the maximum carnage when they blew themselves up, sources sai

Zazi, who is cooperating, has been moved from the MDC in Brooklyn to a "secure, undisclosed location." And authorities are extraditing another suspect from Pakistan in the case: [More...]

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NY Iman Pleads in Zazi Case, Will Be Deported

New York Imam, Ahmad Wais Afzali, who told Najibullah Zazi's father the police had inquired about his son, pleaded guilty today to making a false statement to the FBI. There is no terror component to the charge. He faces up to six months, but the Government is not requesting incarceration. He will be deported.

Outside the courtroom, Mr. Afzali appeared distraught about leaving the country he has called home since he left Afghanistan as a young boy. His wife and two children from a previous marriage all hold United States citizenship. He said he did not know where he would go.

“My whole tribe is here,” Mr. Afzali said. To return to Afghanistan, he offered, would be to “sign my death sentence.”

Considering that Afzali also told the elder Zazi he would set up a meeting between Najibullah and his friend and the cops, I think this is too harsh. [More...]

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Najibullah Zazi Pleads Guilty and Cooperates

Najibullah Zazi pleaded guilty today to three counts: conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction against persons and property in the U.S., conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and providing material support to a terrorist organization (Al Qaeda.) CBS has the transcript of today's hearing. Zazi said he went to Afghanistan in 2008 to join the Taliban to fight the U.S. military. While in Pakistan, he was recruited by al Qaeda to launch an attack in the U.S.

In entering his plea, the immigrant, Najibullah Zazi, admitted that he came to New York last year near the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks to kill himself and others on the subway using a homemade bomb — what he said was a “martyrdom operation” that he was just days away from executing until he realized he was under government surveillance.
The plea agreement is sealed. The DOJ press release describing the plot is here. Two of the counts to which he plead carry a maximum life sentence.
Zazi admitted that he brought TATP [Triacetone Triperoxide] explosives to New York on Sept. 10, 2009, as part of plan to attack the New York subway system.
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Najibullah Zazi's Father Gets Bail

Mohammed Zazi, father of Najibullah Zazi, was put back on bail and electronic home monitoring today. He'll be returning home to Denver.

As part of a deal reached in federal court in Brooklyn, Mohammed Wali Zazi must post $50,000 bond signed by his wife and daughter and secured by $20,000 cash. He also will be subject to electronic monitoring when he returns to his home in suburban Denver, possibly as early as Friday.

Zazi was on bail in Denver where he was charged with making false statements to the FBI, when he was arrested due to a charge being filed in the Eastern District of New York charging him with conspiracy to obstruct justice.

He was transferred to New York while in custody of the Marshals and at his first appearance, ordered detained. But as I noted here, the Judge agreed to re-evaluate once his lawyer had time to prepare a proper bond package.

Was it really necessary for the EDNY to request him detained in the first place and make him spend 16 days in custody? I don't think so. Bond is not supposed to be withheld as a form of punishment. But at least it came out right in the end.

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Father of Najibullah Zazi Pleads Not Guilty, Ordered Detained

Mohammed Zazi, the father of Najibullah Zazi, pleaded not guilty to a charge he conspired to obstruct the grand jury investigation into his son's alleged terror-related activities. According to the Indictment, the object of the conspiracy was to destroy or conceal items such as glasses and chemicals to impair their availability to the grand jury.

Mr. Zazi was ordered held without bond today, but the Judge said his lawyers could reopen the matter and submit a bond application and package either to the Magistrate Judge or the District Court Judge. His lawyer said she had not prepared a bond package, probably because she had just been appointed. The Judge did not detain Mr. Zazi as a danger to the community, only as a flight risk, since he hadn't presented sufficient sureties to assure his future appearance. (Order here, Minutes of hearing here.) [More...]

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Najibullah Zazi's Father Indicted: Conspiracy to Obstruct Justice

Mohammed Wali Zazi, father of Najibullah Zazi, has been charged in an Indictment in the Eastern District of New York with conspiracy to obstruct justice. The basis of the charge is an alleged conspiracy in September, 2009 to hide or destroy objects such as liquid chemicals and containers to prevent them from being available to the grand jury or other official proceeding.

Here's the Indictment. The elder Zazi, who has been on bond in Denver while awaiting trial on charges he made false statements to federal agents investigating his son last summer, was expected to appear in federal court in Denver today. The Denver Post reports prosecutors moved to dismiss the Denver case against him today. According to the court docket, the judge has granted the Government's motion. So no more Denver case, and he's no longer on bond. The New York Times says Zazi has been taken into custody and will have a removal hearing in Denver later today.

It's also being reported that Zazi's uncle, Naqib Jaji, was recently charged in the case. [More...]

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Two Brooklyn Men Associated With Najibullah Zazi Charged

Adis Medunjanin, 25, a U.S. citizen of Bosnian origin and Zarein Ahmedzay, a 24-year-old man of Afghani origin, both high school buddies of Najibullah Zazi, the 24 year old arrested last summer in Denver and charged with terror offenses, have been charged in federal court in Brooklyn with crimes related to Zazi.

At a Saturday arraignment at Brooklyn federal court, Medunjanin was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country, Pakistan, and one count of getting military-style training from al Qaeda.

...Zarein Ahmedzay, a 24-year-old man of Afghani origin, also was arrested on Friday and pleaded not guilty to a charge of making false statements to the FBI -- specifically, that he lied about where he had visited in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

This has probably been brewing for a while as according to docket information on PACER, the Government advised the court in Zazi's case on December 3, 2009 that there likely will be a superseding Indictment. The next conference is set for Feb. 25. [more...]

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