NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Jurors Monday heard two different stories about Mohammed Wali Zazi, the father of admitted terror plotter Najibullah Zazi.
During opening arguments, prosecutors alleged Mohammed Zazi, 55, lied to the FBI to protect his son. Prosecutors also claim he destroyed evidence of homemade explosives.
“He is not charged with being a terrorist or knowing about the plot in advance but when he made the choice to lie and hide and destroy evidence he committed a crime,” prosecutors said Monday.
1010 WINS’ Juliet Papa reports: Two Different Stories
The defense painted a different picture of Zazi calling him a “good man” who moved to New York City in 1990 to drive a cab — without a penny to his name.
Defense attorney’s say Zazi had no idea about the plot or his son’s involvement.
“He is a father not a terrorist. You will hear he said to his son, ‘What is going on. What have you guys done?,’ defense attorney Justine Harris said. “He was confused and in the dark.”
Zazi is charged with obstruction of justice by lying to investigators and tampering and destroying evidence to cover for his son, who pleaded guilty last year of plotting to attack New York City subways in the fall of 2009.
The elder Zazi pleaded not guilty to those obstruction charges on December 9, 2010. The charges carry of sentence of up to 20 years in prison if convicted.
WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reports from the courthouse
On Monday, Amenullah Zazi, the defendant’s nephew, testified that his uncle told him to get rid of chemicals warehoused for the scheme and lie to a grand jury to protect his cousin Najibullah.
He testified that his uncle told him to “take care” of the chemicals and understood that to mean to get rid of them. Amenullah said he and his aunts did the job.
Amenullah publicly admitted for the first time Monday that he was in on his cousin Najibullah’s plot. He told jurors that he introduced Najibullah to a cleric in Pakistan who arranged for Zazi and two friends from Queens to get training at an al-Qaida outpost.
Amanullah Zazi pleaded guilty in secret and agreed to become a government witness at his uncle’s trial.
The younger Zazi could testify in his father’s trial, but if that happens, he’s expected to deny his father had any knowledge of the plot.
Zahrein Ahmedzay also admitted to a role in the plot. Najibullah Zazi and Ahmedzay said they were angered by the presence of the United States in Afghanistan. The younger Zazi pleaded guilty to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and other charges.
Mohammed Zazi has been free on bail and living in Denver.
He is reportedly broke. The U.S. government paid to fly him here for the trial and pay for his hotel.
The trial takes place as U.S. officials continue to pore over information gleaned from the raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. Some of that information revealed that Al Qaeda considered attacking trains on the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks.
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