Suspect in Subway Bombing Plot Pleads Guilty


New York—A man with ties to the terrorist organization al-Qaida, who built homemade explosives with the intention of using them in the New York City subway system, has pleaded guilty in a federal court.

Najibullah Zazi, 25, is an Afghan native and a former shuttle driver at the Denver International Airport. Along with two former high school classmates from Queens, Zazi traveled to Pakistan in 2008. He has admitted to making the trip in order to join the Taliban, but says that instead he was recruited by the al-Qaida network and subsequently entered a training camp for the terrorist group.

In 2009, Zazi bought beauty supplies, including acetone, in order to manufacture approximately two pounds of an unstable, but powerful explosive—triacetone triperoxide, or TATP. This substance is often used as a detonator to set off even more powerful explosives.

After cooking up the homemade bomb materials in a Colorado hotel room, Zazi embarked on a cross-country drive to New York, arriving shortly before the eighth anniversary of the September 11 terrorism attacks. By making that trip, he aroused the suspicions of authorities, who then arrested him.

Zazi has pleaded guilty to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and providing material support for a terrorist organization. If convicted, he could face a life sentence in prison without the possibility of parole.

According to some sources within the law enforcement community, Zazi gave information about the plot to his attorney and to federal prosecutors in what is known as a proffer session, which usually signals the start of a plea deal. One such source said that Zazi agreed to cooperate after learning that his mother could face criminal immigration charges.

One of the other men who traveled to Pakistan with Zazi and who is allegedly involved in the plot, Zarein Ahemdzay, has been jailed on charges of lying to the FBI about contact he made with Zazi. A third, Adis Medunjanin, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan and remains jailed.

All three men are to appear in federal court in Brooklyn later this week.

There are other individuals who have been charged in the incident, including an imam whose bail was set at $1.5 million after he, too, was charged with lying to the FBI. Zazi’s father was also charged with attempting to hide evidence, including chemicals, but he has been freed on $50,000 and allowed to return to his home outside Denver. Zasi’s uncle has reportedly been arraigned in secret on a felony count, which has led to further speculation about a plea deal being brokered for Zazi.


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