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Queens Chronicle

Guilty in Queens-linked terror plot

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Posted: Thursday, February 25, 2010 12:00 am

A jihadist trained to kill by al Qaeda admitted on Monday that he planned to massacre New Yorkers by bombing the subway system.

Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan native and legal U.S. resident who attended high school in Flushing, pleaded guilty to conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction against people in the United States, as well as conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and providing material support to al Qaeda. He is expected to get life in prison.

Zazi was arrested last September after partially assembling bombs in Denver, where he was working as an airport shuttle driver, and bringing them to New York for completion, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He planned to bomb the subways sometime between Sept. 14 and 16, less than a week after the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

But after learning that law enforcement agents were investigating him, Zazi and other conspirators, whom the government did not name, discarded the bomb-making material. Zazi returned to Denver, where he was arrested on Sept. 19 and brought back to New York for prosecution in federal court.

City Councilman Peter Vallone (D-Astoria), chairman of the Public Safety Committee, said he was not surprised Zazi pleaded guilty without a trial — “because nothing a terrorist does surprises me.”

They plead guilty for two reasons, he said: because they are guilty and because they want the world to know it, as opposed to most criminals who try to evade the law.

“I think this is an important reminder that as you and I are speaking, and I’ve said this before, that as we’re speaking, terrorists who live among us are plotting to kill our children,” Vallone said, “and that’s something we should never forget.”

The councilman also noted that the ranks of the NYPD have shrunk from 41,000 on Sept. 11, 2001 to 35,000 today, with more cuts on the horizon under the administration’s plan. Mayor Mike Bloomberg says reductions in all city agencies are necessary due to the recession’s impact on tax revenue, but Vallone says making them to the Police Department is a mistake.

“As threats to New York City increase, our force should be increased, not decreased, but unfortunately, every year the administration decreases it,” he said. “Trying to find the breaking point of the New York Police Department is a dangerous game to play.”

Vallone also reiterated his stance that the Sept. 11 trials should not be held in the city.

Welcome to the discussion.