American convicted of plotting terror attacks in NY
Adis Medunjanin, 28, a Queens resident was found guilty by a jury after a four-week trial in federal district court in Brooklyn. He will be sentenced by US District Judge John Gleeson on September 7 and faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison.
So far, seven defendants, including Medunjanin and his two co-conspirators have been convicted in connection with the al-Qaeda New York city bombing plot and related charges.
Jurors reached the verdict after deliberating for a little more than a day. As the verdict was read, Medunjanin gazed at his family members, raised his palms upward and appeared to be saying a prayer.
A Bosnian native, Medunjanin and his two high school friends Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay came within days of executing a plot to carry out coordinated suicide bombings in New York City subways in September 2009, as directed by senior al-Qaeda leaders in Pakistan, the Justice Department said.
However, when the plot was foiled, Medunjanin attempted to commit a terrorist attack by crashing his car on the Whitestone Expressway here in an effort to kill himself and others.
US Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch said Medunjanin`s journey of radicalization led him from "Queens to Pakistan to the brink of a terrorist attack in New York City ? and soon to a lifetime in federal prison."
"Medunjanin was an active and willing participant in one of the most serious terrorist plots against the homeland since 9/11. Were it not for the combined efforts of the law enforcement and intelligence communities, the suicide bomb attacks that he and others planned would have been devastating," said Assistant Attorney General for National Security Lisa Monaco.
The other two men in the alleged plot, Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay, have already pleaded guilty and testified against their old friend in hopes that cooperation with prosecutors would earn them lighter sentences.
The terror plot began when Medunjanin, Zazi and Ahmedzay headed for Afghanistan in 2008 to join the Taliban and kill US military personnel abroad.
After arriving in Peshawar, Pakistan in late August 2008, Medunjanin and Ahmedzay were turned back at the Afghanistan border. Within days, the trio met an al-Qaeda facilitator in Peshawar and agreed to travel to Waziristan for training.
In Waziristan, they met with al-Qaeda leaders Saleh al- Somali, who was then the head of al-Qaeda external operations, and Rashid Rauf, a high-ranking al-Qaeda operative.
Medunjanin, Zazi and Ahmedzay then received al-Qaeda training in Waziristan on how to use various types of high-powered weapons, including AK-47, machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade launcher.
During the training, al-Qaeda leaders continued to encourage Medunjanin and his fellow plotters to return to US to conduct "martyrdom" operations and emphasized the need to hit well-known targets and maximize the number of casualties.
The three discussed the timing of the attacks and had zeroed in on locations in Manhattan, including the subway system, Grand Central Station, the New York Stock Exchange, Times Square and movie theaters for the attacks.
After returning to the US, the three agreed to carry out suicide bombings during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan in late August and September 2009.