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Al-Qaeda suspect who targeted New York subway system pleads guilty

Zarein Ahmedzay, a Queens taxi driver, admitted his role during a hearing in federal court. Najibullah Zazi of Denver earlier pleaded guilty to participating in the alleged plot against the New York subway system. A third defendant, Adis Medunjanin, will stand trial.

By Staff writer / April 23, 2010

In this courtroom drawing, (L-R) Assistant US Attorney Attorney Jeff Knox, defendants Adis Medunjanin and Zarein Ahmedzay, Defense Attorneys Michael Marinaccio and Robert Gottlieb stand before a federal judge on February 25. Medunjanin and Ahmedzay stand accused of plotting with Al-Qaeda to carry out a series of rush-hour bomb attacks on the New York subway system.

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The second of three men accused of plotting with Al-Qaeda to carry out a series of rush-hour bomb attacks on New York City subways in September 2009 pleaded guilty on Friday, as prosecutors provided new details about the aborted terror mission.

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Zarein Ahmedzay, a Queens taxi driver, admitted his role in the plot during a hearing in federal court in Brooklyn.

Mr. Ahmedzay joins Najibullah Zazi of Denver, who earlier pleaded guilty to participating in the alleged subway plot.

The action leaves a single defendant, Adis Medunjanin, to stand trial on a five-count indictment.

All three defendants face up to life in prison.

According to federal prosecutors, the three men traveled to Pakistan in August 2008 and met with two Al-Qaeda leaders, Saleh Al-Somali, head of international operations for Al-Qaeda, and Rashid Rauf, described as a key Al-Qaeda operative.

The three Americans told the Al-Qaeda officials they wanted to fight in Afghanistan, but the leaders suggested they would be more useful to Al-Qaeda if they returned to New York to carry out suicide attacks, prosecutors said.

Al-Qaeda told them to maximize casualties

According to US officials, the men agreed to carry out the attacks. They said the Al-Qaeda leaders encouraged the men to strike well-known structures in New York City and to maximize the number of casualties.

“The facts disclosed today add chilling details to what we know was a deadly plot hatched by Al-Qaeda leaders overseas to kill scores of Americans in the New York City subway system,” said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement.

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