Would-be NYC bomber faces sentencing in foiled al-Qaeda plot

Rj Sangosti  Denver Post via AP FILE

Rj Sangosti Denver Post via AP FILE

Najibullah Zazi from Queens, New York, who pleaded guilty in 2009 and faced up to a life sentence for preparing a terrorist attack, will serve no additional time because of his extensive cooperation with prosecutors against the al-Qaeda* terrorist group and good behaviour, the New York Post reported on Thursday citing the sentence by Brooklyn federal Judge Raymond Dearie.

Zazi pleaded guilty in 2010 to three charges connected to a plot to bomb the subway around the anniversary of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in the U.S. But prosecutors on Wednesday credited Zazi for his "extraordinary" assistance to authorities over the past nine years, including implicating his two best friends in the subway plot and providing "critical intelligence and unique insight regarding al-Qaeda and its members".

Zazi's charges carry a sentence of life in prison, but it's likely he will receive a much lighter sentence, thanks to years of funneling intelligence about other Al-Qaeda trained terrorists to the US government.

Medunjanin was convicted at trial, in large part thanks to Zazi's testimony, and was sentenced to life in prison.

Zazi was arrested in September 2009 after having driven to NY with materials to build bombs.

DENVER, COLORADO - SEPTEMEBER 17: Najibullah Zazi (R), 24, arrives at the Byron G. Rogers Federal Building in downtown with his attorney Art Folsom (not pictured) September 17, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. "And I ask for forgiveness".

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"I'm sorry for all the harm I have caused", he said.

Zazi will remain on supervised release-federal probation-for the rest of his life.

His lawyer, William Stampur, told reporters he expects Zazi will be released soon, after having already spent nearly 10 years in custody. The sentence also requires he continue to cooperate with federal authorities. He was recruited and trained by al-Qaida to bomb New York's subways during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan and the eighth anniversary of the September 11 attacks.

Since then, the al Qaeda-linked defendant has transformed from a would-be terrorist into a highly valuable government witness, providing "extraordinary cooperation" to USA investigators, prosecutors disclosed as Zazi is set to be sentenced Thursday in Brooklyn federal court. "Zazi's assistance came in the face of substantial potential danger to himself and his family". "By aligning himself with the government against al-Qaida, Zazi assumed such a risk".

The US attorney general at the time of the foiled plot, Eric Holder, said upon Zazi's arrest that "there is no doubt that American lives were saved".

The third man charged in the subway plot, Zarein Ahmedzay, offered similar assistance to federal authorities and was sentenced in December to 10 years - essentially time served.

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