By Joe Anuta
The former Flushing High School student accused of plotting to blow up city subways was convicted Tuesday afternoon of every terrorism charge he faced in Brooklyn federal court.
Adis Medunjanin, 28, faces life in prison after a jury found him guilty of charges, including conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiring to commit murder in a foreign country and providing material support to and receiving military training from al-Qaeda.
“Adis Medunjanin’s journey of radicalization led him from Flushing, Queens, to Peshawar, Pakistan, to the brink of a terrorist attack in New York City — and soon to a lifetime in federal prison,” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement. “As this case has proved, working against sophisticated terrorist organizations and against the clock, our law enforcement and intelligence agencies can detect, disrupt and destroy terrorist cells before they strike, saving countless innocent lives.”
The charges stemmed from a terror plot Medunjanin hatched with two former classmates, Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay, who both pleaded guilty in 2010. Lynch called the trio’s plan to blow up city subways one of the most serious threats since the 9/11 terror attacks.
The testimony of Zazi and Ahmedzay about their trip to Pakistan in 2008, along with other convicted terror plotters, provided an inside look into the operations of al-Qaeda that would not have been heard by the public if the case were tried in a military tribunal instead of a U.S. District Court.
The conviction was good news for the city’s top watchdog, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
“I want to commend prosecutors for the conviction of Adis Medunjanin,” he said. “His conviction stands as a stark reminder of terrorists’ desire long after 9/11 to return to the city to kill more New Yorkers.”
Medunjanin is set to be sentenced by Brooklyn Federal Judge John Gleeson Sept. 7, where he faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison, according to Lynch’s office.
The Bosnian native was arrested in 2010 days before he planned to help execute the plot. After fleeing law enforcement, he called 911 from his car and told the operator, “We love death more than you love your life,” before rear-ending another vehicle on the Whitestone Expressway and crashing.
Police had already swooped down on his co-conspirators, Zazi and Ahmedzay, after Zazi had brought bomb-making materials into the city from his home in Colorado.
Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at [email protected] or by phone at 718-260-4566.