A decade ago, Najibullah Zazi faced life in prison for plotting a suicide bomb attack in the New York City subway timed to coincide with the 9/11 anniversary in 2009 — but Thursday he could find out that he’ll soon be free.
Ahead of his sentencing Thursday afternoon, the 33-year-old has been lauded by prosecutors for his “substantial cooperation,” which helped flip his cohort Zarein Ahmedzay and convict would-be bombers Adis Medunjanin and Abid Naseer in two separate trials.
And that could mean he’ll soon join the ranks of a handful of al Qaeda terrorists-turned-informants who received little to no jail time in exchange for their services, with release into a witness protection program.
Zazi’s assistance in terror prosecutions is only surpassed by the dogged work of the cooperator who helped bring Zazi himself down — former Queens altar boy Bryant Neal Vinas.
Vinas, whose potential life sentence was reduced to time served in May 2017, was called one of the “single most valuable cooperating witnesses” the feds have ever had.
“Under the terms of the cooperation agreement in this matter, the government makes no recommendation to the Court for a specific sentence to be imposed,” prosecutors write in their submission to Brooklyn federal Judge Raymond Dearie ahead of Zazi’s 2:30 p.m. sentencing.
Zazi even attempted to get his own father to take responsibility for his actions, after Mohammed Wali Zazi was charged with conspiring to obstruct justice for destroying a stash of Zazi’s explosives-making materials he’d found.
The dad ignored the letters from his son begging him to plead guilty, and went to trial. Prosecutors did not call Zazi to testify against his own father, who was later convicted and sentenced in 2012 to 54 months behind bars.
But, their letter notes, his cooperation has been “extraordinary.”
Zazi’s friend and fellow plotter, Ahmedzay, was sentenced to 10 years’ imprisonment in 2018 following his own cooperation, according to court papers.
Zazi’s lawyers are asking that their client also get 10 years. He’s already served more than 9.5 behind bars while cooperating.
In their own filing, defense attorney William Stampur quotes a letter written by Zazi to the judge ahead of his sentencing, which has not been made public.
“Looking back, I now see how gullible I was, actually living in an imaginary world,” he writes. “Your honor, the uneducated are perfect targets for the unscrupulous. They make historical facts and contort them to their agenda, to motivate people to their will.”
“My lack of education and the reverence surrounding Awlaki, an Islamic scholar, was enough to cause me to believe,” Zazi tells the judge. “And believe I did, for I nearly took my own life and the life of innocents.”
Source: Read Full Article