FBI arrests two possible accomplices to Zazi terror plot
After months of watching two men who went to high school with accused terrorist Najibullah Zazi, the FBI arrested both men Friday in New York.
New York — Two men who attended high school with a terrorism suspect accused of getting training in Pakistan were arrested Friday, months after federal authorities began investigating them as possible accomplices in a plot to bomb New York City.
Charges against Bosnian-born Adis Medunjanin and Afghan-born Zarein Ahmedzay hadn’t been announced, although they were scheduled to appear in Brooklyn federal court Friday. FBI agent Richard Kolko said their arrests were part of “an ongoing investigation” by a terrorism task force.
Ahmedzay and Medunjanin were first publicly linked to the investigation in September, when investigators raided their homes shortly before the arrest of their old classmate Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan immigrant and Colorado airport shuttle driver. Authorities have been watching them for months.
Medunjanin’s attorney, Robert C. Gottlieb, previously confirmed that investigators had questioned Medunjanin and taken computers and cell phones from his apartment.
Prosecutors said that Zazi — charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction — had recently traveled to a terrorist training camp in Pakistan, and that “others” who have not been named accompanied him on the trip to the country.
Gottlieb said the FBI seized his client’s passport Thursday. The search warrant indicated the passport was sought as part of an investigation into the conspiracy, Gottlieb said.
Zazi has pleaded not guilty to that charge. He is accused of getting al-Qaida training to build homemade bombs to attack New York City.
After the passport seizure Thursday, Medunjanin apparently became upset and left in his car. While driving erratically, he called police and made threatening comments, according to a law enforcement official who was not authorized to discuss the case and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity. Medunjanin got into an accident and was treated at a hospital for minor injuries.
Gottlieb said the FBI confirmed the arrests Friday morning, many hours after they occurred. He said he didn’t know what charges the men faced.
Gottlieb insisted Medunjanin has done nothing wrong and said hospital officials told him that authorities took him into custody after he was treated at the hospital.
“They intentionally hid him from his lawyer and his family,” Gottlieb said.
A man who answered the phone at Ahmedzay’s apartment Friday morning identifying himself as the suspect’s father said he had just learned of the arrest. He said his son doesn’t have a lawyer.
“We saw it on the television this morning,” he said. He said his son works the night shift, driving a cab, and didn’t come home in the morning.
“I don’t know what happened,” he said. He said he didn’t know whether his son knew Zazi or was involved in anything related to terrorism.
Interviewed by the AP in the fall, Ahmedzay’s brother, Nazir, denied that Ahmedzay had been involved in any plot against the U.S.