Photograph by Christine Cornell/AFP/Getty Images.
Two men behind one one of the most serious terrorism plots since 9/11 testified at-length in a New York City courtroom this week, detailing how they were recruited by al-Qaida to bomb the city's subways and how they were taught a "very simple" method for making suicide bombs.
Reuters reports that Afghan-born Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay, both 27, took the stand in the trial of a third accused terrorist, Adis Medunjanin. The three men were friends from their time at a high school in Queens.
Zazi and Ahmedzay have both already pleaded guilty to conspiring with Medunjanin to commit suicide attacks in the city and agreed to become government witnesses in a bid for leniency. Bosnia-born Medunjanin has denied any connection to the plot or al-Qaida.
During the first two days of the trial on Tuesday and Wednesday, Zazi, a permanent U.S. resident, and Ahmedzay, a U.S. citizen, recounted the trio’s trip to Pakistan in 2008, and their attempt to enter Afghanistan to join the Taliban. Denied entry, they returned to Pakistan and joined an al-Qaida training center where they learned to construct a detonator from household chemicals, and were persuaded to go back to the U.S. to carry out attacks.
"It was very simple and they're everywhere," Zazi said of the bomb-making recipe and its chemicals.
The New York Daily News notes that the men, who had been living in Queens, hoped that attacking New York would send a message to the Obama administration. While testifying on Wednesday, Zazi said they had also considered other targets including cinemas, Grand Central Station, Wal-Mart and the New York Stock Exchange before deciding to target the transit system.
"People commute all the time on buses and subways," Zazi said. "The subway is the heart of everything in New York City."
Zazi and Ahmedzay both face a charge of life in prison, but have yet to receive their sentence.