New York Subways Blast Mastermind Testifies

New York Apr 18:  The admitted mastermind of a foiled plot to bomb New York City subways testified Tuesday that he wanted to “fight alongside the Taliban” in Afghanistan after coming to believe that the
new york subways blast mastermind testifies -...
India TV News Desk 18 Apr 2012, 03:05 PM IST
New York Apr 18:  The admitted mastermind of a foiled plot to bomb New York City subways testified Tuesday that he wanted to “fight alongside the Taliban” in Afghanistan after coming to believe that the U.S. government was behind the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.

Najibullah Zazi told a federal jury that he and two friends made an oath about five years ago to leave for Afghanistan after listening to the recorded sermons of radical Muslim clerics.

Complaining about American intervention in Afghanistan wasn't enough, he said.

“My view was that 9/11, who was behind it, was America itself.”

Zazi, who pleaded guilty to the bomb plot, was testifying at the trial of Adis Medunjanin, who has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, providing material support to a terrorist organization and other charges.

Prosecutors allege that Zazi, Medunjanin and Zarein Ahmedzay, who has also pleaded guilty, traveled to Pakistan in 2008 to try to join the Taliban but instead were recruited by al-Qaida operatives for a suicide mission in the U.S.

Authorities have called the misison one of the most frightening near-miss terror plots since the 9/11 attack—to strap on suicide bomb vests and detonate them inside New York subways.

Zazi and Ahmedzay have agreed to testify against Medunjanin in a bid for leniency.

Zazi, who used beauty supplies to try and cook up explosives in a Colorado hotel room, was arrested shortly before the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks in a traffic stop on the George Washington Bridge after driving across the country.

“These men came so close—within days of carrying out this attack,” Assistant U.S. Attorney James Loonam said in opening statements.

In his own opening statements 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 his client 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.”

Medunjanin, 27, is a Bosnian-born Muslim and naturalized U.S. citizen.

Ahmedzay was the government's first witness on Monday. The 27-year-old of Afghan descent told jurors that Medunjanin encouraged him to follow a more radical form of Islam preached by U.S.-born extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki. He recalled listening to downloads of al-Awlaki's anti-American speeches on his iPod, saying, “I became very radical in my views.”

The men traveled in 2008 to Pakistan, where they met al-Qaida recruiters who told them they would be better suited for a suicide mission in the United States, Ahmedzay said.

He also recounted a meeting where the three agreed to become martyrs. Terror operatives encouraged the men to complete the mission before the end of George W. Bush's second term as president, he said.

He recalled returning to New York City and using his cab to drive around the city in early 2009 and look at potential targets for a terrorist attack, including Grand Central Terminal, Times Square and the New York Stock Exchange. The conspirators settled on attacking the subways during Ramadan, he said.

Al-Qaida had told the men that pulling off a small-scale attack—even using guns instead of bombs to kill New Yorkers—would be considered a success, Ahmedzay said.
 
 
 

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