Father of city subway bomb plotter is convicted

(AP) -The father of an admitted terrorist wasconvicted Friday of charges he destroyed evidence and lied toinvestigators to cover up his son's al-Qaida-sanctioned plot toattack

NEW YORK - (AP) -The father of an admitted terrorist wasconvicted Friday of charges he destroyed evidence and lied toinvestigators to cover up his son's al-Qaida-sanctioned plot toattack the New York City subways in 2009 as one of a trio ofsuicide bombers.

A Brooklyn jury found the father of Najibullah Zazi guilty ofconspiracy and obstruction of justice at a trial detailing thedisintegration of a working-class family of Afghan-Americans amidchilling allegations of homegrown terror.

Mohammed Wali Zazi had no visible reaction when the verdict wasread. He faces up to 40 years in prison at sentencing on Dec. 2,although the term could be much lower under federal sentencingguidelines.

Leaving court, the 55-year-old former cab driver from Coloradotold reporters he was innocent.

"There are so many things that didn't come out in court,"Zazi, who remains free on bail, said without elaborating.

One of his attorneys, Deborah Colson, said the verdict was adisappointment and would be appealed.

"We will keep fighting for Mr. Zazi, and we will not give up,"she said.

Said U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch: "This defendant sought toconceal one of the most violent terror plots in recent times. . Hisactions, had they not been thwarted, would have left Americans atgrave risk."

The case featured the testimony of two other family members whopleaded guilty and agreed to testify for the government to staveoff stiff prison terms. They detailed the family's failure toacknowledge Zazi as a budding terrorist and its clumsy attempts toprotect him once his plot fell apart.

The father was guilty of "lying and convincing others to lie toinvestigators and the grand jury, and destroying incriminatingevidence that was crucial to the FBI's investigation," AssistantU.S. Attorney Melissa Marrus said in closing arguments.

Colson argued cooperating family members "falsely accused ourclient, Mr. Zazi, just to save themselves."

At trial, a cousin of Najibullah Zazi told jurors that whileliving in Pakistan he had introduced Zazi to a cleric there whoarranged for Zazi and two childhood friends from Queens to getexplosives and other instruction at an al-Qaida outpost.

Zazi admitted in a guilty plea last year that he returned fromPakistan to his family's Denver-area home to practice cooking uphomemade bombs using chemicals extracted from beauty supplies. Hethen drove to New York City in September 2009 with plans to attackthe subway system in a "martyrdom operation" before he learned hewas being watched by FBI and fled back to Colorado.

The defendant's nephew and brother-in-law both testified how theFBI and immigration agents put the squeeze on the Zazi clan as soonas the plot unraveled.

When it became clear Najibullah Zazi was a suspect and familymembers were getting grand jury subpoenas, the cousin said "UncleWali" recruited him to get rid of plastic containers of peroxideand other evidence. The family agreed to code name the chemicals"medicine" in case the FBI was eavesdropping, he said.

He also claimed his uncle admonished the family, "If anybodyasks questions, tell them we don't know nothing."

The brother-in-law recalled coming across Zazi's stockpile ofbomb-making materials in his garage two months before Zazi set theplot in motion and confronting him by asking, "What the hell isthis?" But he also claimed he wasn't suspicious enough to reportit.

The elder Zazi's lawyers argued recorded phone calls showed thebrother-in-law had a vendetta against their client because hebelieved the terror case had ruined his life. On one, he wasoverheard saying, "To hell with Najibullah Zazi."

The defense also accused the government of using testimony aboutthe origins and aftermath of the subway bomb plot as a diversion.

"This is not Najibullah Zazi's case," Colson said. "Thegovernment put in all that evidence because they wanted to scareyou."

She called her client "a proud, hard-working American citizen"who was shocked to learn his son was a jihadist.

The father "will have to live with that knowledge about his sonfor the rest of his life," she said. "It has broken his familyapart, and it has broken him too."

advertisement | advertise on News 12

Trending Video

VIDEO: Rally held to support sick leave legislation 1 VIDEO: Rally held to support sick leave legislation
Ray Navarette is among the Long Island Ducks' 2 Legendary LI Duck lands in Bloomingdales with clothing line
News 12 hit the streets of Brooklyn to 3 Word on the Street: Leggings on a plane
Federal agents have raided numerous homes and businesses 4 Rockland fire training center serves as base for FBI raid operation
5 Brooklyn Sportscast, March 27

advertisement | advertise on News 12


Sorry to interrupt...

Your first 5 are free

Access to News12 is free for Optimum, Comcast®, Time Warner® and Service Electric℠ video customers.

Please enjoy 5 complimentary views to articles, photos, and videos during the next 30 days.