A cousin of a man who pleaded guilty in 2010 to helping mastermind a plot to bomb New York City’s subways was sentenced to 40 months in prison.
Amanullah Zazi, 25, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie in Brooklyn, New York. Zazi pleaded guilty in January 2010 to conspiring to obstruct justice and aiding and abetting others in receiving military-type training from al-Qaeda.
Zazi’s cousin, Najibullah Zazi, pleaded guilty in February 2010 to supporting al-Qaeda and conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction in a 2009 plot to detonate bombs on New York subways around the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. He is scheduled to be sentenced in September.
Dearie said the sentencing was difficult given Amanullah Zazi’s “very serious” crimes and his cooperation with investigators. Assistant U.S. Attorney James P. Loonam said Zazi should be given credit for his help, which “had a direct effect on the national security of the United States.”
“I’m sorry,” Zazi said during a brief, hushed statement to the judge before sentencing. He faced as much as 30 years on the two charges. A citizen of Afghanistan, he will be deported to that country after completing his sentence.
Amanullah Zazi testified during the trial of his uncle, Mohammed Wali Zazi, who was convicted in July 2011 of destroying evidence and conspiring to lie to investigators in the case of his son, Najibullah Zazi. Mohammed Wali Zazi was sentenced in February to 4 1/2 years in prison.
Amanullah Zazi testified that he went to a relative’s home in Colorado at his uncle’s direction to help get rid of bomb-making materials that his cousin had left in a garage, including glasses, masks, liquid chemicals and containers.
After arranging to meet other family members by using “pick up the medicine” as a code phrase for destroying bomb-making chemicals, Amanullah said, he watched two other family members dispose of chemicals from the garage in an upstairs bathroom as the odor of bleach filled the home.
Amanullah said it was his idea to dispose of some of the equipment in a dumpster by putting it in a book bag, driving around and shopping to distract anyone monitoring them from the disposal.
Zazi admitted helping his cousin and others into an al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan’s Waziristan region in September 2008, according to a court filing. Zazi wasn’t interested in training with the terrorist group because he knew they would look unfavorably on his drinking and hash smoking, Loonam said.
Zazi didn’t know the specifics of any plot, and his motives for committing the crimes “were not jihadist in nature,” Loonam said. His cooperation helped lead to his uncle’s conviction and the guilty pleas of his cousin and a co-conspirator in the bomb plot, Zarein Ahmedzay.
Ahmedzay in April 2010 admitted conspiring with Najibullah Zazi to conduct suicide bombings on New York’s subways.
The two men testified against a co-conspirator, Adis Medunjanin, who was convicted in May of nine charges associated with the would-be bombing and sentenced to life in prison last month. Ahmedzay is scheduled to be sentenced in May.
The case is U.S. v. Zazi, 1:10-cr-00013, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of New York (Brooklyn).