View Full Version : Updates: Dramatic raids in search of terror: Feds move on Qaeda suspect's Queens pals
01-08-2010, 06:17 AM
2 N.Y. Men Arrested In Zazi Terror Probe
Adis Medunjanin And Zarein Ahmedzay Taken Into Custody Early Friday Morning By FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force
Medunjanin, 25, Was Questioned Back In October In Najibullah Zazi Terror Investigation
NEW YORK (CBS) ― CBS station WCBS-TV in New York has learned of the arrests of two Queens men in connection with the ongoing investigation of the Najibullah Zazi terror plot.
25-year-old Adis Medunjanin and Zarein Ahmedzay were taken into federal custody early Friday morning by the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force in New York City.
Medunjanin was taken into custody after crashing his car near the a bridge on Thursday night.
Authorities served a search warrant on Medunjanin's apartment. It was in the same building as the raid from last year when authorities were looking for evidence in connection with a New York terror plot.
Medunjanin's attorney confirmed to WCBS-TV that authorities asked for and then eventually got his client's passport.
Then, just after 3 p.m., a car registered to his family was involved in an accident.
That car was then towed to a police station with severe damage. Sources told WCBS-TV Thursday night that Medunjanin suffered minor injuries and was brought to an area hospital, where, with police outside, he was undergoing tests.
Medunjanin was previously questioned by authorities in October in connection with last year's New York terror plot involving Najibullah Zazi. He was once suspected of accompanying Zazi to Pakistan.
It's unclear whether authorities suspected that he attended terrorist training camps along with Zazi.
Medunjanin is a 25-year-old Bosnian immigrant who grew up with Zazi in Flushing, and his attorney confirmed that the two know each other.
He has a degree in economics and works in a building management business.
01-09-2010, 08:58 AM
Homegrown Terror Suspect Due In Court
Adis Medunjanin And Zarein Ahmedzay Taken Into Custody Thursday By FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force
Medunjanin, 25, Was Questioned Back In October In Zazi Terror Probe
NEW YORK (CBS) ― A second suspect linked to an alleged al Qaeda associate accused of plotting to attack New York City with homemade bombs is due in court to face terror charges, his lawyer said.
Adis Medunjanin, 25, was arrested Friday after he caused a traffic accident while under surveillance. He is to appear in court Saturday.
His former classmate, Zarein Ahmedzay, has pleaded not guilty to a false statement charge in an indictment accusing him of lying to the FBI about a trip to Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Law enforcement officials familiar with the case said Friday that Medunjanin was facing more serious terror charges; one said he likely would be accused of seeking training from a terrorist organization. The officials were not authorized to discuss the case and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.
During a brief appearance in federal court in Brooklyn on Friday, Ahmedzay was ordered held without bail until a hearing Tuesday. Defense attorney Michael Marinaccio noted that the indictment made no mention of terrorism.
It's an odd and very complicated case involving homegrown terror. Two men were arrested Thursday night, but only one was arraigned on the charge of making false statements to an FBI agent.
"The allegations are that my client lied to FBI agents when they interviewed him back in September of '09 about his trips to Afghanistan where he has family and Pakistan where he also has family," said attorney Michael Marinaccio.
Marinaccio represents Zarein Ahmedzay, a cab driver charged with making false statements to FBI agents. It's an outgrowth of the homegrown terror case brought last year against Zazi.
Sources said the three went to Pakistan in 2008 to train in explosive and weaponry with Al Qaeda terrorists. That apparently is at the heart of the charge against Ahmedzay, that the lied to a federal agent.
"I prefer to presume my client innocent," said Medunjanin's attorney, Robert C. Gottlieb.
Gottlieb said prosecutors questioned him until 3 a.m. and tried to get Gottlieb thrown off the case. He's furious.
"Somehow, in speaking to him he said he no longer wants to have me represent him, meaning that he no longer has a lawyer and they're free to interrogate him against my clear statements. It is suspicious to say the least," said Gottlieb.
Friday's arraignment came after a complicated series of events that began when cops and federal agents served a search warrant at Medunjanin's apartment Thursday to get his passport.
"Adis has been cooperating with the authorities for months now when they came to his house and so when they showed up with a search warrant for his passport he voluntarily turned it over," said Gottlieb.
It was the same Flushing building raided by agents of the Joint Terrorism Task Force last year; but after surrendering his passport, Medunjanin got into a traffic accident near the Whitestone Bridge. He fled, was taken into custody for leaving the scene of an accident, and then was treated at a nearby hospital for minor injuries. It was then that counterterrorism officials arrested him.
The search warrant for the passport said it was being sought in connection with an investigation into a conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction.
02-22-2010, 02:26 PM
NYC Terrorism Suspect Cites Subway Plot
Najibullah Zazi Allegedly Received Terror Training In Pakistan, Plotted To Attack NYC With Homemade Bombs
NEW YORK (AP) ― Terrorism suspect Najibullah "Camel Face" Zazi has told a federal judge that he was trained by al Qaeda for a "martyrdom" plan to attack the New York City subways.
The 25-year-old former Denver airport shuttle driver pleaded guilty Monday in New York to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction.
Zazi also pleaded guilty to counts of conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and providing material support for a terrorist organization. He faces a life prison sentence without parole.
The Afghan native says he agreed to the bomb plot because of the United States' military action in Afghanistan. He says he received training in Pakistan.
He was arrested in the fall after arousing authorities' suspicions by driving cross-country from Denver to New York around the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
He faces a life prison sentence without parole in the plea deal.
He was arrested in the fall after arousing authorities' suspicions by driving cross-country from Denver to New York around the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks.
Authorities say he received al Qaeda training in Pakistan, bought beauty supplies in Colorado and tried to use them to cook up homemade bombs in a Colorado hotel room.
Law enforcement officials tell The Associated Press that Zazi had told federal prosecutors he was armed with bomb-making materials when he drove to New York City last September.
But one official says that Zazi flushed the explosives down the toilet in New York after becoming concerned about a traffic stop.
The official wasn't authorized to speak publicly about the case and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
As important as a plea would be, Zazi may be far more valuable to investigators as a source for information about co-conspirators in the United States and Pakistan.
04-12-2010, 06:11 AM
Report: 4th NYC Subway Bomb Plot Suspect Jailed
Man Arrested in Pakistan as New Details of Alleged Plot Emerge
NEW YORK (CBS News) ― More details emerged Monday over an alleged attempt to set off explosives in the New York City subway system last year and a fourth suspect was reportedly arrested in Pakistan.
The newspaper reports an unidentified man will be extradited from Pakistan and will face trial in a Brooklyn federal court.
The man in charge of the plot, 25-year-old Najibullah "Camel Face" Zazi, has cooperated with law enforcement officials and has said that he and two others planned to strap bombs to themselves aboard trains at the Times Square and Grand Central subway stations in mid-September of last year.
Zazi pleaded guilty in February to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and supporting al Qaeda, which he said he received training from in Pakistan in 2008.
He faces life in prison without parole at his June sentencing, but his cooperation with authorities could earn him leniency.
04-15-2010, 02:09 PM
No Jail Time For Imam In NYC Subway-Plot Case
NEW YORK (AP) ― An Afghanistan-born imam linked to the suspects in an aborted suicide bomb plot against New York City subway stations has dodged jail time, but he must leave the country within 90 days.
Ahmad Afzali pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI in a deal sparing him serious jail time. He faced up to six months in prison.
In a tearful statement Thursday in Brooklyn federal court, he said he never intended to help the suspects.
Afzali said he didn't know what country he would go to.
He was arrested in September as federal authorities scrambled to thwart a plot by Najibullah Zazi, a Colorado airport van driver who is the case's principal suspect. Afzali has said he had wanted to help authorities but lied under grilling by the FBI about his phone conversations with Zazi.
04-23-2010, 07:49 AM
Officials: NYC Terror Suspect To Plead Guilty
Zarein Ahmedzay, Charged In NYC Terror Plot, Expected To Enter Guilty Plea Friday Afternoon In Brooklyn
NEW YORK (CBS) ― Law enforcement officials say a man charged in a plot to attack the New York subway system with homemade bombs plans to plead guilty.
Two law enforcement officials say Zarein Ahmedzay is expected to enter the plea Friday afternoon in Brooklyn federal court.
The officials spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because formal court action had not yet been taken.
Ahmedzay had pleaded not guilty to making false statements to the FBI about a plan by Najibullah Zazi to launch suicide bombing attacks on Manhattan subway lines. Zazi is an admitted al Qaeda associate.
There was no immediate response to a phone message left with Ahmedzay's lawyer.
Meanwhile, Imam Ahmad Afzali dodged jail time, getting instead a temporary three month break.
"I gotta deal with this the rest of my life," he told reporters on April 16.
Afzali was charged with obstructing justice. What that really meant was he put up a roadblock in the FBI's investigation of the plot to blow up subway stations at Times Square and Grand Central. But instead of six months in prison, the judge let Afzali stay home, under supervision for 90 days. Then Afzali has to go home to Afghanistan and not come back.
Afzali had been an NYPD informant, but when the FBI showed him pictures of Zazi and others suspected in the subway bomb plot, he admitted he lied and said he didn't know who they were. In these investigations, if the feds can't get you for anything else they will get you for lying.
"The sad part is that I have to say goodbye to the only country I know," he said. "My kids were born here, my family lives here. It's gonna be a tough transition, a tough trip."
Ironically, Zazi, whom the Imam was trying to protect, got arrested, and is now cooperating.
04-24-2010, 10:29 AM
Suspect: Al Qaeda Ordered Suicide Attack In NYC
NEW YORK (AP) ― They were former classmates at a New York high school, both on a mission to join the Taliban and fight U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
But when Zarein Ahmedzay and Najibullah Zazi arrived in Pakistan in the summer of 2008, two high-ranking al Qaeda operatives gave them another set of marching orders.
"They told us we would be more useful if we returned to New York City ... to conduct operations," Ahmedzay said Friday in a guilty plea that offered more chilling details of a foiled plot attack on the New York City subways last fall.
Asked by a judge in federal court in Brooklyn what kind of operations, he responded: "Suicide-bombing operations."
The attacks were to coincide with Ramadan and target landmarks, but the plan was scaled back because the conspirators didn't have enough homemade explosives.
The plea also marked the first time prosecutors named the al Qaeda operatives involved in the high-profile case.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Knox identified them as Saleh al-Somali and Rashid Rauf, who were both killed in Pakistan. The U.S. Justice Department on Friday described al-Somali as the head of international operations for al Qaeda.
Al-Somali was killed in a drone strike in December. Rauf, a British militant linked to a jetliner bomb plot, was also killed in a Predator strike in November 2008.
Knox said Ahmedzay met with a third senior al Qaeda operative in a training camp in northern Waziristan in Pakistan. He has not been identified.
Prosecutors say the 25-year-old Ahmedzay — who pleaded guilty to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and other charges — joined Zazi and Adis Medunjanin, another friend from their Queens high school, on the trip to Pakistan to seek terrorism training.
Zazi, a Colorado airport van driver, admitted this year that he tested bomb-making materials in a Denver suburb before traveling by car to New York with the intent of attacking the subway system to avenge U.S. military involvement in Afghanistan.
Ahmedzay, who had been licensed to drive a taxi in New York, said Friday that al Qaeda leadership encouraged the men to target "well-known structures" in New York to cause "maximum casualties." He said they also decided that the attack should occur during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, between Aug. 22 to Sept. 20.
Ahmedzay quoted heavily from a jihad verse in the Quran and urged Americans to "stop supporting the war against Islam."
"I'm thankful for myself that I didn't harm anyone, but I feel someone else will do the same thing," he said.
Prosecutors said the three settled on the subways after Zazi determined he could only make enough explosives for a smaller attack in time for Ramadan, and decided it would happen Sept. 14, 15 or 16.
Prosecutors say the attacks were modeled after the London transit system bombings in July 2005, when four suicide bombers killed 52 people and themselves in an attack on three subway trains and a bus.
The New York plot was disrupted in early September when police officials stopped Zazi's car as it entered New York.
Last month, an Afghanistan-born imam linked to the suspects pleaded guilty to lying to the FBI when asked about the men. He was sentenced to time served and ordered to leave the United States.
Attorney General Eric Holder said Friday that the plot "makes clear we face a continued threat from al Qaeda and its affiliates overseas."
"With three guilty pleas already and the investigation continuing, this prosecution underscores the importance of using every tool we have available to both disrupt plots against our nation and hold suspected terrorists accountable," he said.
Defense attorney Michael Marinaccio declined to say whether Ahmedzay was cooperating with the investigation. But he added that by agreeing to plead guilty, "there's a potential benefit to him."
Ahmedzay and Medunjanin previously pleaded not guilty to charges they sought to join Zazi in what prosecutors described as three "coordinated suicide bombing attacks" on Manhattan subway lines. Medunjanin attorney Robert C. Gottlieb said Friday his client intends to go to trial.
"This case is much different as it pertains to Mr. Medunjanin," said Gottlieb.
Officials have said a fourth suspect is in custody in Pakistan but have given no other details about him.
11-16-2012, 05:54 PM
Al Qaeda-trained wannabe subway bomber sings Koranic verses as he's sentenced to life in jail
By MITCHEL MADDUX and DOUG AUER
Last Updated: 6:28 PM, November 16, 2012
Posted: 3:42 PM, November 16, 2012
It’s too late to sing a sad song now.
The Queens man who trained overseas with al Qaeda and plotted a suicide bombing on the city’s crowded subway system sang Koranic verses in open court today as he was sentenced to spend the rest of his miserable life in prison.
Bearded terrorist Adis Medunjanin, 28, broke out in song as he, defense attorney Robert Gottlieb and federal prosecutors stood at the foot of Judge John Gleeson’s bench in Brooklyn federal court.
In fact, Medunjanin wearing a black suit and white dress shirt, announced his intentions to Gleeson.
"I would like to be praising God in Arabic,” he said. "As a Muslim, it is my duty to invite you into this great religion.”
After singing prayers in Arabic, Medunjanin read verses from the Koran in English as his parents, sister and extended family members watched from the gallery.
He then launched into a verbal assault on the US and blasted its foreign policy and overseas wars, condemning torture and mass killings.
"I ask you, what is democracy? What kind of system endorses torture? I ask you, is this really the best system that humanity has ever produced?"
He also criticized the very wealthy and questioned why so many suffer from hunger in the world.
"I would like to ask, in what kind of world are we living - full of hate and lies? The rich keep getting richer. The poor keep getting poorer. Oppression is on every corner. I ask you, where is the peace?"
"I ask all the people who worship the money: When we die, can we bring the money with us? We have so much food, we could feed all the world."
He showed no remorse for his actions and defiantly insisted, “I had nothing to do with any subway bombing plot or any plot whatsoever and I will appeal this decision,” referring to his conviction on May 1 on conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiring to murder US military personnel overseas and a slew of other terrorism-related charges.
Gottlieb said Medunjanin was a “happy,” “smart” boy with a “promising” future, but became more religious as he grew older and was disturbed by seeing violence, such as drone strikes, against Muslims in the Mideast.
"This young man was caught in the face of total helplessness," he said
Gottlieb did his best to paint Medunjanin as harmless, saying, “They [his parents] do not see their son as a dangerous terrorist.”
However, federal officials have long regarded Medunjanin’s twisted plot as the biggest terror threat on US soil since 9/11 and Gleeson agreed.
"That plan was to convert many New Yorkers' worst nightmares into a reality," the judge said, adding that he was “looking for some glimmer of recognition on [Medunjanin’s] part of how atrocious these crimes were.”
02-19-2015, 09:11 AM
One al Qaeda ‘terrorist’ grills another at subway bomb plot trial
By Selim Algar
February 18, 2015 | 11:26pm
Abid Naseer, left, accused of being an al-Qaeda operative and acting as as his own attorney, questions Najibulla Zazi (right) as judge Raymond Dearie listens from the bench.
Photo: Shirley Shepard
It was accused terrorist versus terrorist in Brooklyn federal court on Wednesday.
A suspected Osama bin Laden lackey accused of plotting to blow up a mall in England tried to distance himself from the case while grilling an alleged cohort — the admitted mastermind of a planned New York City subway bombing.
Alleged would-be mall bomber Abid Naseer, who is acting as his own lawyer, asked subway plotter Najibullah Zazi if he had ever seen or heard Naseer’s name while conducting jihadist activities abroad and in America.
“Have you seen my face or picture prior to my arrest?” Naseer, 28, asked.
“No,” Zazi, 29, replied.
“Did you hear anything about Abid Naseer when you were conspiring with your friends?” Naseer continued, referring to himself in the third person.
“No,” Zazi said.
“Have you heard the name ‘Abid Naseer’ in any of the training camps?” Naseer persisted.
“Not that I remember,” Zazi said.
At one point, Naseer asked Zazi why he used his own name in an e-mail to his al Qaeda operative.
“Personally, I’m not very intelligent,’’ Zazi admitted.
In trying to prove that he’s not the terrorist authorities claim he is — stockpiling oil and flour for bomb-making purposes — Naseer even asked Zazi about cookery. “Would any Pakistani family use oil and flour on a daily basis?” Naseer asked.
“My family uses it every day,” Zazi told the court.
Naseer is charged with being part of a three-pronged al Qaeda cabal that plotted the attacks on New York, the UK and Denmark.
Prosecutors say Naseer was orchestrating the bombing of a Manchester shopping center in 2009 before he was arrested.
Prosecutors contend that Naseer used coded language when discussing his violent plans and employed various female names to refer to bombs and the terms “wedding” and “marriage” for specific attacks.
02-21-2015, 10:07 AM
Bin Laden letter allowed as evidence in terror trial
By Selim Algar
February 20, 2015 | 3:23pm
A courtroom sketch of Abid Naseer.
A memo sent to Osama bin Laden that was found at the terror chief’s final hideout can be introduced as evidence at the trial of an alleged al Qaeda operative in Brooklyn federal court, a judge ruled Friday.
The feds claim that the chilling missive — sent by top al Qaeda lackey Saleh Al-Somali — mentioned planned terror operations in Russia and England and obliquely noted defendant Abid Naseer’s arrest by British authorities in 2009.
“We sent a number of brothers to Russia and Britain,” the letter read, according to federal prosecutor Zainab Ahmad.
Naseer — who is accused of plotting to blow up a Manchester shopping mall — fought the admission because it made no specific mention of his name or the operation and was therefore “irrelevant.”
“There’s no specific mention of Manchester or English attacks in 2009 which is the action alleged against the defendant,” said Naseer, who is representing himself in the case. “I believe these documents are inflammatory and irrelevant.”
Ahmad went on to note that the memo alluded to terror-related arrests in England around the same time Naseer was apprehended.
But Naseer countered that Al-Somali acknowledged in the same document that he was unsure if those who were rounded up were affiliated with official al Qaeda business.
After hearing arguments from both sides, Judge Raymond Dearie ruled that prosecutors could present the letter to jurors but questioned just how important it really was.
“The more I read these documents, the less significant I find them,” Dearie said.
The document was among several pieces of evidence recovered at the lair where bin Laden was snuffed out by a Navy SEALs team in 2011, prosecutors said.
Naseer is charged with being a member of a global al Qaeda unit that planned attacks on the New York City subways, a Danish newspaper and the Manchester target.
The feds hold that Naseer never met his co-conspirators but shared an email address with them and was commanded by the same al Qaeda handler.
Naseer used coded language to discuss his planned terror operation in England, mentioning assorted female names when referring to different types of bombs and employing the terms “wedding” and “marriage” to refer to attacks, prosecutors said.
The burly, bearded defendant — who has done a capable job in defending himself despite dropping out of high school and having no formal legal training — insists that he had no jihadi ties and that the charges against him are trumped up.
It was also revealed Friday that Naseer will take the stand himself to defend his position and will be questioned by his official legal adviser in the case, James Neuman.
10-29-2015, 05:47 AM
Feds seek maximum sentence for mall-bomb plot terrorist
By Selim Algar
October 28, 2015 | 10:21pm
The feds want a Brooklyn federal judge to throw the book at a convicted terrorist who plotted to blow up a British shopping mall, according to a Brooklyn federal court filing.
Abid Naseer was convicted in March of scheming to detonate explosives at the Manchester target on behalf of Al Qaeda superiors. He faces between 30 years and life in prison when he’s sentenced on November 17.
“By joining al-Qaeda and planning an intricate plot to kill hundreds of innocent people, the defendant committed the most serious offenses in the United States Code,” wrote federal prosecutor Zainab Ahmad :confused:. “Accordingly, the government seeks a severe sentence within the Guidelines range of 30 years to life imprisonment.”
Prosecutors said at trial that Naseer had common handlers with the New York subway bomb plotters, including Queens resident Najibullah Zazi, who testified against him at trial.
Naseer, who capably represented himself at trial, was convicted after eight hours of jury deliberation.
Prosecutors argued that he used employed female names to refer to bombs and the terms “wedding” and “marriage” as code for specific attacks.
The trial featured disguised British MI5 agents who told jurors testifying about his movements and communiques seized from Osama bin Laden’s lair that prosecutors said referred to his plot.
11-25-2015, 07:28 AM
‘Gentleman’ terrorist gets 40 years for bomb plot
By Priscilla DeGregory and Natalie Musumeci
November 25, 2015 | 1:38am
Abid Naseer stands in court as he is sentenced to 40 years in prison.
A terrorist convicted of plotting to blow up New York’s subways was sentenced to 40 years behind bars Tuesday by a Brooklyn federal judge troubled by how such a “respectful” young “gentleman” went bad.
Abid Naseer, 29, who used female names to refer to bombs and the words “wedding” and “marriage” as code for specific attacks on behalf of al Qaeda, was facing 30 years to life in prison.
“I’m trying to understand how this intelligent young man who has never been arrested before, who was a promising cricket player and comes from a good family, how you go from that to this?’’ Judge Raymond Dearie asked Naseer. “As much as I searched to try to understand, I don’t. You’re clever, you’re a gentleman and you’re respectful.”
Naseer was the eighth defendant to face charges in Brooklyn related to the plots. James Neuman, his court-appointed legal adviser, asked the judge for a lighter sentence, but Dearie brushed him off.
“Let’s assume Mr. Naseer and his colleagues had been successful. Would we be having this conversation?” the judge asked.
Assistant US Attorney Zainab Ahmad argued for a life sentence, noting, “Had he and his co-conspirators not been stopped, hundreds, if not thousands, of people would be dead today.’’
Naseer, who is from Pakistan, has denied any link to al Qaeda and denounced terrorism, saying at the sentencing, “It is my firm intention to achieve my masters in computing,” adding that he also wants to start a family.
Abid NaseerPhoto: Reuters
But the judge rebutted, “You are a terrorist. The evidence establishes that. The British commission established that.”
A federal jury in Brooklyn convicted Naseer in March for conspiring in the al Qaeda plots.
He was first arrested in 2009 in the UK for allegedly planning to blow up a Manchester mall, and was indicted in federal district court in Brooklyn in 2010. He was extradited to the US in 2013.
British authorities never charged Naseer, saying there was not enough evidence against him.
Still, Naseer said he wanted to serve his time in a UK prison.
Dearie replied he had no objection, noting, “The only border that really counts is the one between good and evil, and you are on the wrong side of that.”
It’s unlikely, though, that the UK would imprison a man not convicted of a crime there.
Neuman said he would be appealing the conviction on the grounds that Naseer should not have been permitted to represent himself at the trial.
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