A Bosnian-born US citizen has been sentenced to life in prison for his role in a planned 2009 suicide bomb attack on New York City's subway. He had said the plot was revenge for American attacks in Afghanistan.
Adis Medunjanin received his sentence Friday at a Brooklyn federal court. According to the prosecution, he and his co-conspirators were "within days" of carrying out one of the most serious attacks since September 11, 2001.
Medunjanin was convicted last May on nine counts that included conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism and providing material support to al Qaeda.
He was also convicted of conspiring to murder US military personnel abroad, getting military training from al Qaeda, and attempting to commit terrorism across national boundaries.
US District Judge John Gleeson gave Medunjanin the maximum penalty of life imprisonment, saying in a pre-sentence court filing that he "committed a host of heinous crimes aimed at killing and maiming his fellow American citizens in order to alter and take revenge for American foreign policy."
Plotting the bombing
Medunjanin was born in Bosnia, but fled to the US with his family during the 1990's war with Serbia. His lawyer, Robert Gottlieb, described him as a bright young man with a loving family. His relatives (pictured above) observed quietly from the back during the proceedings.
At his trial earlier this year, prosecutors said that Medunjanin and his two former New York high school friends, Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay, planned to bomb either the New York City subways, Times Square, or another crowded location.
They had previously traveled to Pakistan where they were given training by al Qaeda operatives, according to the prosecution. Their intention was to join up with Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
Zazi began assembling explosive materials at his Colorado home, but their plot was foiled when he and Ahmedazy became suspicious that they were under surveillance. Zazi was arrested in September 2009.
Medunjanin was arrested in January 2010 after crashing his car into another vehicle on the Whitestone Expressway in Queens.
The other two men have already pleaded guilty and testified against Medunjanin in the hopes of securing a lighter sentence, expected next year.
"Adis Medunjanin sought martyrdom for himself and death for innocent New Yorkers as part of al Qaeda's plan to spread terror within our shores," said US Attorney Loretta Lynch. "Instead, he will now spend the rest of his life where he belongs, behind bars."
When asked if he wished to give a statement, Medunjanin stood and recited several verses of the Koran in Arabic. He then gave a speech about the plight of Muslims and the poor around the world, and denied being involved in the subway plot.
dr/ccp (Reuters, AFP, AP)