NEW YORK (AP / WCBS 880) – The father of a man who admitted plotting to bomb New York City subways pleaded guilty Friday to charges he forged immigration forms on behalf of a nephew who ended up testifying against him at a trial earlier this year.
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Mohammed Wali Zazi, an Afghan-born U.S. citizen, admitted that about five years ago he instructed a lawyer to fill out the forms to say the nephew was his son so the nephew could enter the United States more easily.
“I knew he was not my biological son,” Zazi told a judge in federal court in Brooklyn.
Zazi, 56, was convicted in July of more serious charges of destroying evidence and lying to investigators to cover up his son’s al-Qaida-sanctioned plot to attack the New York City subways in 2009 as one of a trio of suicide bombers.
The son, Najibullah Zazi, admitted in a guilty plea last year that he returned from Pakistan to his family’s Denver-area home to practice cooking up homemade bombs using chemicals extracted from beauty supplies. He then drove to New York City in September 2009 with plans to attack the subway system in a “martyrdom operation” before he learned he was being watched by the FBI and fled back to Colorado.\
At the father’s trial, his nephew and brother-in-law both testified how the FBI and immigration agents put the squeeze on the Zazi clan as soon as the plot unraveled. Both had pleaded guilty and agreed to become government witnesses to stave off stiff prison terms.
When it became clear Najibullah Zazi was a suspect and family members were getting grand jury subpoenas, the cousin said “Uncle Wali” recruited him to get rid of plastic containers of peroxide and other evidence. The family agreed to code name the chemicals “medicine” in case the FBI was eavesdropping, he said.
He also claimed his uncle admonished the family, “If anybody asks questions, tell them we don’t know nothing.”
The father, a former cab driver living in Colorado, is free on bail pending sentencing on Dec. 2. He faces up to 40 years in prison, although the term could be much lower under federal sentencing guidelines.
Despite the conviction and guilty plea, the elder Zazi has maintained his innocence. Outside court on Friday, he said that after he’s sentenced he will “tell the whole truth” about his involvement.
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