Prosecutors claim admitted Colorado terrorist part of international plot

8:03 PM, Jul 7, 2010   |    comments
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Zazi, a former airport shuttle driver from Aurora, was one of three U.S. citizens arrested in September 2009 before, prosecutors said, they could carry out a trio of suicide bombings in Manhattan. Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay have pleaded guilty and admitted planning to detonate homemade bombs on the subway during rush hour.

Zazi initially told 9Wants to Know in September he was not a terrorist and never planned to harm anyone.

Zazi spoke first to 9Wants to Know from the porch of his Arapahoe County apartment.

A third man, Adis Medunjanin, awaits trial. Prosecutors added new terrorism charges against him Wednesday.

In an indictment unsealed Wednesday in federal court in Brooklyn, prosecutors added several al-Qaida figures to the case, including Adnan Shukrijumah, an FBI most-wanted terrorist.

Shukrijumah, one of the al-Qaida leaders in charge of plotting attacks worldwide, was directly involved in recruiting and plotting the New York attack, prosecutors said.
Attorney General Eric Holder has called that plot one of the most dangerous since 9/11.

Three of the men indicted Wednesday - Abid Naseer, Tariq Ur Rehman and an alleged al-Qaida operative known as "Ahmad" - were linked to a previously undisclosed companion plot in England.

"These charges underscore the global nature of the terrorist threat we face," said David Kris, the Justice Department's top national security prosecutor.

The Associated Press first reported last week that U.S. authorities believe Shukrijumah was involved in the subway plot, and that Ahmad is in Pakistani custody.

After 9/11, Shukrijumah, 34, was seen as one of al-Qaida's best chances to attack inside the U.S. or Europe, captured terrorist Abu Zubaydah told U.S. authorities. Shukrijumah studied at a community college in Florida but when the FBI showed up to arrest him as a material witness to a terrorism case in 2003, he already had left the country.

In 2004, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft called Shukrijumah a "clear and present danger" to the United States. The U.S. is offering a $5 million reward for information leading to his capture.

The new indictment charging a conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction alleges that Shukrijumah and Ahmad recruited Zazi, Ahmedzay and Medunjanin in 2008 to receive training from al-Qaida in the Waziristan region of Pakistan.

Once the three former high school classmates from Queens returned to the United States in early 2009, it adds, Ahmad traded coded e-mail messages with both Zazi and Naseer, who was part of a Manchester, England-based cell.

Prosecutors say in one message, Naseer told Ahmad he was planning a large "wedding" -- code for attack. Likewise, Zazi e-mailed Ahmad that "the marriage is ready" shortly before he drove from Colorado to New York City carrying bomb-making components in September 2009, they add.

In a search of the British suspects' homes, investigators say they found large amounts of flour and oil, and surveillance photos and maps of Manchester on the walls.

Zazi, who was under FBI surveillance, was arrested after abandoning the plan and returning to Colorado. Naseer is in custody in United Kingdom on terrorism charges; Rehman was deported to Pakistan.

The unsealing of the new indictment falls on the fifth anniversary to a suicide attack on London's transit system that killed 52 commuters.

Have more information about this crash or the people involved, e-mail jace.larson@9news.com or call 303-871-1432. Follow Jace Larson on twitter: jacelarson. 

(KUSA-TV © 2010 Multimedia Holdings Corporation with The Associated Press)

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