- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 25, 2010

NEW YORK — Two high school classmates of admitted terrorist plotter Najibullah Zazi were indicted Thursday in a foiled scheme to bomb New York subways that a prosecutor said was directed by “al Qaeda leadership.”

Zarein Ahmedzay and Adis Medunjanin, both 25, pleaded not guilty in federal court in Brooklyn to charges of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and providing material support to the al Qaeda terrorist network.

Zazi, the former Colorado airport shuttle driver who aroused authorities’ attention when he drove cross-country from Denver to New York last fall, pleaded guilty to similar charges this week.

The three men were planning an attack on city subway lines last September under the direction of leaders of the al Qaeda terrorist network that would have been similar to the 2005 London subway bombings that killed more than 50 people, Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeff Knox said.

Other “overseas” defendants probably will be named in the plot, Mr. Knox said.

“The facts alleged in this indictment shed further light on the scope of this attempted attack and underscore the importance of using every tool we have available to both disrupt plots against our nation and hold suspected terrorists accountable,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said in a statement. “This attack would have been deadly.”

Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said this week that Zazi and two other bombers planned to attack rush-hour commuters on Manhattan subway lines to kill as many people as possible. He didn’t name the two other suspects but said the plot had been disrupted.

Authorities have told the Associated Press that Zazi was cooperating with federal investigators before his guilty pleas this week. Asked whether Zazi would testify against his client, Mr. Ahmedzay’s attorney, Michael Marinaccio, said, “That’s a likely scenario.”

Mr. Medunjanin and Mr. Ahmedzay, who authorities say traveled to Pakistan with Zazi in 2008, already faced charges in the alleged plot.

Mr. Medunjanin has pleaded not guilty to charges he conspired to kill U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. His lawyer, Robert C. Gottlieb, said this week he didn’t know whether Zazi told prosecutors anything about his client, but Zazi’s decision to plead guilty “obviously affects the overall prosecution.”

Mr. Ahmedzay has pleaded not guilty to charges that he lied to the FBI during the probe about places he visited during the 2008 trip.

Zazi’s uncle, father and a Queens imam face lesser charges in the case.

Associated Press writer Pete Yost in Washington contributed to this report.

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