Trial starts for man accused of 2009 subway bomb plot

Adis Medunjanin, third from left, is shown in this courtroom sketch. Medunjanin is an alleged associate of Afghan immigrant Najibullah Zazi and both were charged with planning an al Qaeda-linked plot in 2009.

The trial for one of three Queens men accused of planning a 2009 suicide
attack on the city’s subway system began yesterday in Brooklyn federal
court.

Adis Medunjanin, 27, and two other New York men were recruited by
Adnan Shukrijumah, one of al Qaeda’s top operatives, for a planned
bombing of subway lines in Manhattan in 2009, according to the U.S.
government. The two other men, Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay,
pleaded guilty in 2010.
The men wanted to do it around the eighth
anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, prosecutors said.
Ahmedzay and Zazi, like Medunjanin, lived in Queens. All three have been
held in custody since their arrests.

“In September 2009, three men were prepared to strap bombs to their
bodies and walk into crowded subway cars,” Assistant U.S. Attorney James
P. Loonam told jurors in federal court in Brooklyn yesterday. “These
men came so close, within days, of carrying out this act before they
were stopped.”

Medunjanin was taken into custody after a Jan. 7, 2010, incident in
which he swerved his silver Nissan Altima into another vehicle at more
than 90 miles an hour, followed by government agents, on an expressway
in Queens, prosecutors said. Shortly before he crashed his car,
Medunjanin dialed 911 and screamed in Arabic, “We love death more than
you love your life,” according to the government. The crash occurred
about an hour after law enforcement officers left his home in the
Flushing neighborhood of Queens following the execution of a search
warrant for his passports.

“Mr. Medunjanin never planned to bomb the New York City subways,”
defense attorney Robert C. Gottlieb told the jury. “He never joined any
plan to go to Afghanistan to kill members of the United States
military.”

U.S. District Judge John Gleeson is presiding over the trial, which may last about three weeks.


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