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Al-Qaida operative found guilty of plotting to bomb subway

The Associated Press

A Brooklyn jury returned a guilty verdict Tuesday for Adis Medunjanin, who prosecutors say was inspired by al-Qaida operatives to bomb the New York City subways.

An al-Qaida operative was found guilty Tuesday of plotting to bomb the New York City subway system three years ago. He faces a sentence of life in prison.  

A federal court jury in Brooklyn, N.Y., deliberated for a little longer than a day before returning a guilty verdict for Adis Medunjanin, a 27-year-old U.S. citizen born in Bosnia. Two others, including the chief plotter, Najibullah Zazi, pleaded guilty two years ago and testified as prosecution witnesses at Medunjanin's trial.

Zazi, a Denver airport shuttle bus driver, drove to New York in 2009 with bomb components. He returned to Colorado several days later when the men realized that New York City police and FBI agents were investigating them. Zazi was arrested shortly afterward.


Zazi admitted to recruiting Medunjanin and Zarein Ahmedzay for a suicide bombing mission.

They were inspired, Zazi said, by the online propaganda of Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born Muslim cleric who became al-Qaida's chief propagandist. He was killed in a U.S. drone strike last year.

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The three traveled to Pakistan in 2008, prosecutors said, hoping to join the Taliban. Instead, they met al-Qaida recruiters who gave them rudimentary training and told them they should return to the U.S. and carry out a suicide mission. They agreed, prosecutors said.

Ahmedzay, a former yellow cab driver, told a Brooklyn jury that al-Qaida operatives encouraged them to "do as much damage as possible, but to be successful the attack need not be spectacular," the New York Daily News reported.  

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Ahmedzay, a former yellow cab driver, told a Brooklyn jury that al-Qaida operatives encouraged them to "do as much damage as possible, but to be successful the attack need not be spectacular," the New York Daily News reported.  

The Associated Press

During Adis Medunjanin's trial, Zarein Ahmedzay, above, testified that Medunjanin discussed bombing New York City movie theaters, Grand Central Terminal, Times Square and the New York Stock Exchange before settling on the city's subways.

He testified that the three drove around Manhattan casing potential targets for a terrorist attack. They checked out Grand Central Terminal, Times Square and the New York Stock Exchange. Ultimately, they settled on the subway.

Pete Williams is NBC News’ justice correspondent. Jonathan Dienst is WNBC’s senior investigative reporter. Msnbc.com's Isolde Raftery contributed to this report.

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