The story seemed too crazy to be true: A DIA shuttle driver conspiring to blow up New York's subway system with bombs made from components found in Aurora beauty-supply stores? But after days of questioning in September 2009, 26-year-old Najibullah Zazi was indicted and shipped off to New York, where he ultimately confessed to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction.
That was in February 2010. And yesterday, Zazi was in a New York courtroom for the federal trial of Adis Medunjanin, who'd been his high-school classmate in Flushing, New York, when they decided to go fight the Taliban. "My view was that 9/11, who was behind it, was America itself," Zazi testified yesterday. "We decided we were not doing our jobs. we shouldn't just point fingers." Along with fellow classmate Zarein Ahmedzay, they traveled to Pakistan in 2008 to "do jihad." But instead of joining the Taliban, they were recruited by al-Qaida operatives, who gave them training and turned them into would-be suicide bombers.
According to the New York Times, the trio of would-be terrorists didn't always agree. "We started the conversation on such targets as Walmart, the stock exchange, Times Square, movie theaters and buses," Zazi testified, adding that he argued with Medunjanin about his personal and religious habits. "I probably hurt his feelings the whole trip by accusing him. He was drinking tea from a Pepsi bottle, and I told him it wasn't the right way."
We Believe Local Journalism is Critical to the Life of a City
Support Our Journalism
But they got along well enough to return to the United States, where Zazi continued making plans while driving a shuttle in Aurora -- before the conspiracy was derailed. Medunjanin, a Bosnian-born Muslim and naturalized U.S. citizen, has pleaded not guilty. Like Zazi, Ahmedzay pleaded guilty; he testified Monday. Zazi will be back on the witness stand today.
Zazi's father, Mohammed Zazi, an Afghan native who moved to Aurora and became a United States citizen in October 2007, ultimately went to trial on charges of conspiracy. In February, he was sentenced to four-and-a-half years in prison for lying to protect his son.
Najibullah Zazi has not yet been sentenced. He is facing life in prison -- but his ultimate sentence could be a little less onerous after his testimony.
Zazi's conspiracy isn't the only terrorism story to come out of this state. Read about more in "9/11 anniversary: Top 10 terrorists with Colorado connections."