NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — A New York man was convicted Tuesday of plotting an aborted suicide mission against New York City subways in 2009 — a case that featured the first-time testimony from admitted homegrown terrorists about al Qaeda’s fixation with pulling off another attack on American soil.
A jury found Adis Medunjanin guilty of all counts for his role in a terror plot that federal authorities say was one of the closest calls since Sept. 11, 2001.
There was no reaction from the defendant at the reading of the verdict. Medunjanin‘s family, refugees from Bosnia who’d literally been saved from persecution there by this country, also sat silently, in contrast to almost constant tears during the trial proceedings, CBS 2’s Don Dahler reported.
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Testifying against Medunjanin was Najibullah Zazi, the confessed ring leader and bomb maker, and Zarein Ahmedzay, the New York cabbie whose job was to pick out their terror targets.
Prosecutors said Zazi and Medunjanin were friends who met as students in Flushing High School and became more and more radicalized by listening to lectures by radical Islamists. They eventually plotted to kill as many New Yorkers as possible by setting off bomb vests inside subways during rush hour, prosecutors said.
Prosecutors called half a dozen members of the NYPD’s Joint Terrorism Task Force to testify about the intense surveillance of the three men. Ironically, it was when Zazi, the ring leader, realized they were being followed and watched, that he abandoned the plot and fled back to Denver.
The taxi driver, Ahmedzay, testified that even though Medunjanin was eventually kept out of the planning and preparation for the terror attacks, he always planned to participate. Ahmedzay said the group should carry out the operation during the month of Ramadan, Dahler reported.
Medunjanin could receive life in prison. Sentencing is set for Sept. 7.
“I want to commend prosecutors for the conviction of Adis Medunjanin. His conviction stands as a stark reminder of terrorists’ desire long after 9/11 to return to the city to kill more New Yorkers,” said Police Commissioner Ray Kelly in a statement.
CBS News’ John Miller was with the FBI at the time of the plot and said the terror trio originally had ambitious targets.
“Targets they looked at, the Stock Exchange, Grand Central, landmarks, but they settled on the New York subway system around the 9/11 anniversary in January of 2009,” Miller said.
Zazi testified that Medunjanin shared his views back then that “America is oppressing Muslims in Afghanistan” and that it was their duty to join the jihad and kill Americans.
However, defense attorneys said their client never intended to kill anyone on American soil.
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