Bomb plotter on NYC terror trial witness list

Published April 4, 2012 11:18PM (EDT)

NEW YORK (AP) — Two would-be suicide bombers who targeted New York City subways in 2009 are on a list of potential witnesses for the upcoming trial of a third man accused in the foiled terror plot.

A judge made the list naming Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay public on Wednesday at the request of The Associated Press and other news organizations. It had originally been omitted from a court filing in the case of Adis Medunjanin.

Medunjanin has pleaded not guilty to charges alleging he went to Afghanistan with Zazi and Ahmedzay in 2008 to join the Taliban and fight U.S. soldiers. The three former high school classmates from Queens instead fell into the hands of al-Qaida operatives, who gave them weapons training in their Pakistan camp and asked them to become suicide bombers, authorities say.

After returning, Zazi, a former Denver airport shuttle driver, cooked up explosives with beauty supplies and set out for New York City around the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

Prosecutors say the plan called for three "coordinated suicide bombing attacks" on Manhattan subway lines. But Zazi became suspicious he was being watched by law enforcement and returned to Colorado.

Zazi and Ahmedzay later admitted in guilty pleas that they wanted to avenge U.S. aggression in the Arab world by becoming martyrs.

Also on the list of potential witnesses is Bryant Neal Vinas, an American-born terrorist who has become a key government cooperator. In a guilty plea in 2009, Vinas admitted giving al-Qaida "expert advice and assistance" about New York's transit system and acknowledged participating in a rocket-attack mission on U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

Opening statements in the Medunjanin trail are set for April 16 in federal court in Brooklyn.

By Salon Staff

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