New York bomb plotter describes Al Qaeda plan
NEW YORK — The convicted bomb-maker in a 2009 plot to cause carnage in New York described Monday how he and an Al-Qaeda handler in Pakistan considered everything from the subway to movie theaters as targets.
“We started the conversation on such targets as Walmart, the New York Stock Exchange, Times Square, subways, movie theaters, I believe buses were mentioned too,” Najibullah Zazi said in court Tuesday at the trial of an alleged co-conspirator.
Zazi, 26, was arrested in 2009 “days” before making his bombs operational, according to prosecutors. He pleaded guilty and has agreed to testify against his former close friend Adis Medunjanin, who is accused of plotting to join Zazi and a third man in wearing suicide bomb vests.
The plot was first discussed in Pakistan in 2008 when the three young New York Muslims were trying to cross into Afghanistan to join the Taliban guerrillas fighting US forces, prosecutors say.
Instead of getting to Afghanistan, the trio found themselves spending a few days with an Al-Qaeda group in Pakistan, where a handler known as Hamad pushed for them to return to US soil and carry out an attack there.
Zazi said he understood that he was “asking me to go back and do a martyrdom operation…. use some explosive and give your life.”
It was Zazi’s first testimony since his arrest. Lawyers for Medunjanin, 28, say he did travel to Pakistan, but did not intend to become a terrorist and had nothing to do with the bomb plot back in New York.
He faces life in prison if convicted on nine terrorism-related counts.