A U.S. citizen from Afghanistan whose son was convicted of plotting to bomb New York subways was sentenced to four and a half years in prison for destroying evidence and conspiring to lie to investigators.
Mohammed Wali Zazi, 56, was sentenced yesterday by U.S. District Judge John Gleeson in Brooklyn, New York, according to a statement from prosecutors. Zazi was convicted by a federal jury July 22 of obstruction of justice and conspiracy to obstruct justice. His son, Najibullah Zazi, pleaded guilty in February 2010 to supporting al-Qaeda and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction
Prosecutors said the elder Zazi directed family members to destroy bomb-making materials, including liquid chemicals, that were part of his son’s terror plot, and that he conspired with family members to lie to agents that were probing the matter in 2009.
“To this day he still rejects the government’s view of Najibullah and his case,” Deborah Colson, a lawyer for Zazi, told Gleeson yesterday.
Zazi had faced as long as 40 years in prison. He had pleaded not guilty to two counts of obstruction of justice and one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice. The plot, which his son called a “martyrdom operation,” was planned for around the 2009 anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
During the trial, lawyers for Zazi said the former New York City taxi driver worked hard to live the American dream and support his children, and that he took his own son to the FBI upon learning of an investigation. They said he didn’t know of his son’s plans, and blamed family members for turning against him and trying to obscure their own role in the plot.
Zazi stood in the way of the FBI’s investigation into his son by destroying chemicals and goggles and lying about communications with an imam in Queens, Andrew Goldsmith, a prosecutor, told the jury during the trial.
The case is U.S. v. Zazi, 1:10-cr-60, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).