– New York
A Pakistani bomb-maker, who was involved in a foiled 2009 plot against New York city’s subways, has revealed how he and an Al Qaeda handler in Pakistan considered everything from the subway to movie theatres as targets.
“We started the conversation on such targets as Walmart, the New York Stock Exchange, Times Square, subways, movie theatres, I believe buses were mentioned too,” Najibullah Zazi said in court April 17 at the trial of an alleged co-conspirator, Adis Medunjanin.
Zazi, an immigrant from Pakistan and the third man in the group, Zerein Ahmedzay, an immigrant from Afghanistan, have already pleaded guilty. Medunjanin, a Bosnian immigrant who travelled with the two friends to Pakistan where they allegedly sought terrorist training, is among those accused of devising the scheme.
Zazi testified April 17 that Medunjanin had provided him with audio recordings of terrorist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki promoting jihad.
He testified that he wanted to enlist in the Taliban “before they win and America leaves, I should go and be a part of it”.
“My understanding was they wanted me to carry out a martyrdom operation,” Zazi testified.
The three initially resisted, he said. “We talked amongst ourselves, looked at each other and said no,” he said, only to later begin their planning. Prosecutors allege Medunjanin and the two others eventually hatched a plan to rig backpacks with explosives and blow them up on New York subway stations.
Angry at the presence of US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, the three went to Pakistan’s tribal belt - “the centre of Al Qaeda activity against the United States” - to join the terrorist group, according to prosecutors.
Once there, they said, the men were given “special treatment” and “private training by Al Qaeda” because of their coveted status as US citizens.
A year after the foiled 2009 plot against New York city’s subways, another bombing attempt took place in 2010.
Pakistan-born American Faisal Shahzad has pleaded guilty to trying to detonate a car bomb in New York’s Times Square May 1 while working with the Taliban in Pakistan. He has been sentenced to life in prison.
Shahzad admitted he drove a Nissan Pathfinder into the crowded Manhattan intersection laden with improvised explosives. He fled when they failed to go off and was arrested May 3 at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport after boarding a flight to Dubai.