By Connor Adams Sheets
Federal prosecutors said Thursday they may file new charges in the case against Najibullah Zazi, the former Flushing man accused of planning an al-Qaida terror attack on New York City, and that the case may go to trial as early as fall 2010.
“I think it’s likely there will be additional charges,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Knox during Thursday’s hearing at the U.S. District Court in Brooklyn. “We’re still evaluating the evidence, but my expectation at this point is that we will be seeking a superseding indictment.”
Prosecutors did not list possible new charges, or indicate whether any other individuals will be charged, but Zazi, 24, already faces life in prison on a charge of conspiracy to use explosive devices against persons or property in the U.S., a charge he denies.
Defense attorney Michael Dowling said during a post-hearing press conference in front of the court that Knox’s remarks were “the first we’ve heard of” any new charges.
“I’m not sure what they intend to do, so we’ll just have to see,” he said. “They’re only charging him with conspiracy, so maybe they’ll charge him with a non-conspiracy count.”
Knox estimated that it will take three months for prosecutors to complete discovery, and that counsel will then need time to review materials and file pre-trial motions, and that as such fall is the earliest the case could go to trial.
But Dowling called a fall date a “kind of optimistic” goal, saying that discovery, which Knox said will involve efforts such as translation of conversations from Arabic, Pashto and Bari, will be time-consuming, and that the trial will likely begin even later.
Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 138.