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NYC Trial Details Terror Planning
Defendant Who Pleaded Guilty Describes al Qaeda Training, Subway Bomb Plot
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Three former high-school classmates were perilously close to implementing an al Qaeda-inspired plan to detonate suicide bombs in New York City's subways before they were thwarted in 2009, federal prosecutors told a packed courtroom Monday.

The characterization came during opening statements in a trial in Brooklyn federal court which one of the men, Adis Medunjanin, is accused of receiving training by the terrorist organization while in Pakistain and returning to the U.S. with orders to launch a devastating attack.

Mr. Medunjanin has pleaded not guilty
"Wudn't me."
to counts including conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to commit an act of terrorism, conspiring to commit murder abroad and conspiring to provide material support to a terrorist organization.

He is the only one of the suspects who didn't plead guilty. His alleged confessed cohorts will testify against him as part of cooperation agreements with the government. On Monday, one of the men began detailing the trio's road to radicalization and the planning of the alleged mission, which authorities considered to be one of the most viable terrorist threats in the U.S. since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

The trial is notable in that unlike many other terrorism cases, the defendants weren't caught as a part of a federal sting. Instead, the prosecutors said Monday, the attack was fully operational rather than aspirational.

"These men came so close, within days of carrying out this attack," said James Loonam, assistant U.S. attorney for the Eastern District.
This lot can be proud they were self-starters, I s'pose, though eyes were on them.
Mr. Medunjanin faces a maximum term of life in prison if convicted.

His attorney, Robert Gottlieb, said his client was seeking to support the Taliban fighting the U.S. in Afghanistan
Treason as a defence -- interesting. No doubt it's a good deal more clever than it appears.
but denied the 28-year-old Bosnian-born Moslem had agreed to carry out suicide kabooms in the U.S. with Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay. Both men have pleaded guilty to a host of terrorism charges.

"The truth is that Adis Medunjanin is not a terrorist," Mr. Gottlieb said. "In this case, the government is just wrong."
He wanted to join the Taliban.
He wanted to fight, and presumably kill, for the Taliban.
The Taliban are a jihadi organization, ie terrorists. Then there's the Al Qaeda connection, which the lawyer seems to have forgotten.
Therefore, Mr. Medunjanin is a terrorist, though he claims he drew the line at dirtying his own nest.
Quod erat demonstratum, as I believe the Latin goes.
He attacked the credibility of the witnesses, saying they were cooperating only to avoid likely lengthy prison terms.

Testimony on Monday began with Mr. Ahmedzay detailing his friendship with Messrs. Medunjanin and Zazi. The three had attended high school together in the New York borough of Queens, and in 2008 they "made a covenant to go to Afghanistan and fight with the mujahedeen against American forces," he said.
It sounds dreadfully romantic in the abstract, when one leaves out all the killing of one's countrymen, and stuff like that.
That summer, Mr. Ahmedzay said, they traveled to Pakistain where they were recruited by al Qaeda operatives who showed them slickly produced propaganda videos, which were played in court, with digital recreations of the 2005 London subway bombings and the car-bombing of the 2008 Danish embassy in Pakistain.The videos, which were played in court, contained "martyrdom" statements by the perpetrators of the attacks.

Mr Ahmedzay said the three were told they would be more valuable as jacket wallahs in the U.S. and were given training in use of weapons, Mr. Ahmedzay said. Their handlers encouraged them to identify targets in the U.S. and execute a "mission" during the presidency of George W. Bush, he told the court.
"You're not valuable enough to be true a Lion of Islam, but you'll do as well as a raped woman or a retarded child to carry a bomb. There -- now don't you feel better?"
Mr. Ahmedzay said he spoke with his two friends at the time and said, "We had come here to give our lives, to seek martyrdom...now are we going to accept or reject it?"

He said the men accepted the mission and began planning it.
"Woo hoo! Ok, srsly, guys -- who wants to be mentally broken, and who wants to be mentally deficient?"
Mr. Ahmedzay, a taxi driver, would case prominent targets. Mr. Medunjanin, a doorman in a New York City building, would be a suicide bomber and Mr. Zazi, an airport-shuttle driver in Colorado, would seek bomb-making materials and build the explosive, Mr. Ahmedzay said.

The original plan called for a car-bomb targeting major New York landmarks such as Grand Central Terminal, Times Square and the New York Stock Exchange, the witness said. But when Mr. Zazi said he couldn't build a big enough bomb because he had lost a page of his notes,
Wow. That must have been why he emailed, asking for directions.
they decided on suicide belts to target the subway during rush hours, Mr. Ahmedzay testified.

The attack was abandoned when Mr. Zazi realized he was being watched by federal and local authorities while on a car trip to New York.
That was when he was stopped by police on the bridge, if I recall correctly.
At the time of his guilty plea in February 2010, prosecutors said Mr. Zazi had purchased large amounts of chemicals needed to produce the explosive TATP,
A.k.a. Mother of Satan, because it's so unstable...
which was used in the bombing of London's transit system in 2005. Prosecutors alleged that Mr. Zazi used a hotel room near Denver, where Sherlocks later found bomb-making residue. Mr. Zazi traveled to New York in September, and along with the others plotted the timing of the attack and where to make the explosives, according to prosecutors.

Mr. Ahmedzay said he lied repeatedly to the FBI during the investigation and destroyed evidence.
No doubt that seemed clever at the time...
Mr. Gottlieb, the defense attorney, zeroed in on Mr. Ahmedzay's cooperation agreement with the government and called his credibility into question during cross examination.

"You would be willing to kill, to set off a bomb, but you wouldn't lie to a jury?" he asked the witness.

Noting that Mr. Ahmedzay faces a range of no prison time to life, Mr. Gottlieb asked Mr. Ahmedzay how much time he hopes to serve in exchange for his testimony.

"I hope to get that zero years you mentioned, sir," the witness replied.

Mr. Zazi, who was described by authorities as the leader of the cell at the time of his arrest, was expected to testify Tuesday..
VOA adds:
Once in Pakistan, Ahmedzay said, they were taken instead to an al-Qaida training camp in northwestern Pakistan and urged to carry out a suicide mission in the United States. The men agreed, and after returning to the U.S., Zazi began assembling ingredients for the bombs, including nail polish remover and peroxide from beauty supply stores.

Ahmedzay testified they discussed potential targets with their al-Qaida handlers in Pakistan, including Times Square, the New York Stock Exchange, Grand Central Station and Pennsylvania Station, but did not settle on a definite one. The goal, he said, was to strike a crowded subway station during rush hour, to maximize civilian casualties.

Medunjanin's lawyer, Robert Gottlieb, said Medunjanin never intended to hurt anyone when he crashed his car into another vehicle on a New York City bridge just after calling a police emergency line to say that he "loved death more than you love your life."
Prosecutors termed that a jihadist slogan, but Gottlieb told the jury that Medunjanin meant only to kill himself, rather than be falsely branded as a Muslim terrorist.
And in another VOA article:
According to Najibullah Zazi, the confessed mastermind of the foiled 2009 subway bomb plot, accused terrorist Adis Medunjanin “was a role model to us,” because he was most knowledgeable in Islam.

According to Zazi and Ahmedzay, who also pleaded guilty, the trio became close friends after high school, bonding over their dedication to Islam - and to the Internet lectures of radical Imams. As they grew angry at the American presence in Afghanistan, they decided to go there to fight to the death  - to“perform jihad,” as Zazi testified.

Zazi, who operated a food cart in New York, said he used more than 10 different credit cards to buy cameras, computers, jewelry and airline tickets to Pakistan in 2008.

The prosecution plans also to put on the stand two other confessed terrorists, including Saajid Muhammad Badat, a Briton convicted of plotting to use a shoe bomb to blow up an airliner.

Saajid Badat: 'walking angel' who became a terrorist
Saajid Badat
...also known as Saajid Muhammad Badat...
was quiet, softly spoken and respectful - a devout Muslim, described by one family friend as a ''walking angel''.
It's quite extraordinary how many walking angels turn into terrorists. Remarkable, really.
Satan had angels, too...
A bright, well-educated man from a deeply religious family and an active member of his community, he seemed like the model citizen.

But unknown to those closest to him, Badat hid a dark secret - one that he would keep hidden until his arrest by anti-terrorism officers in November 2003. A secret that he had once hoped would go forever undetected.
Bio details at the link. What's sad is that this guy had both the ability and many opportunities given him to contribute to society. The good news is that he decided not to explode the 'bring down the airplane' device he was given in training camps. The bad news is that he didn't go so far as to uncover other plots until he was caught.

'Shoe bomber' has sentence cut after agreeing to give evidence against 'terrorists'
Saajid Muhammad Badat,
...also known as Saajid Badat...
a would-be shoe bomber who was jailed for 13 years for trying to blow up an airliner, has had his sentence cut by two years after agreeing to give evidence against other suspected terrorists, police and prosecutors said today.

Badat, who was jailed in 2005, saw his prison sentence reduced to 11 years in 2009 as part of a deal with prosecutors, it can be reported today.

It is the first time in the UK that a convicted terrorist has entered into an agreement with the Crown Prosecution Service to give evidence in a trial against other alleged terrorists.

Sue Hemming, head of the CPS special crime and counter terrorism division, said the agreement had not been entered into lightly. It will see Badat give evidence in the US trial of Adis Medunjanin over an alleged al Qaida martyrdom plot from 2008 to 2010, which opens in New York today.

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