Saturday, April 24, 2010

Suspect: Al-Qaida Ordered NYC Attack

Via -

They were former classmates at a New York high school, both on a mission to join the Taliban and fight U.S. forces in Afghanistan.

But when Zarein Ahmedzay and Najibullah Zazi arrived in Pakistan in the summer of 2008, two high-ranking al-Qaida operatives gave them another set of marching orders.

"They told us we would be more useful if we returned to New York City ... to conduct operations," Ahmedzay said Friday in a guilty plea that offered more chilling details of a foiled plot attack on the New York City subways last fall.

Asked by a judge in federal court in Brooklyn what kind of operations, he responded: "Suicide-bombing operations."

The attacks were to coincide with Ramadan and target landmarks, but the plan was scaled back because the conspirators didn't have enough homemade explosives.

The plea also marked the first time prosecutors named the al-Qaida operatives involved in the high-profile case.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Jeffrey Knox identified them as Saleh al-Somali and Rashid Rauf, who were both killed in Pakistan. The U.S. Justice Department on Friday described al-Somali as the head of international operations for al-Qaida.

Al-Somali was killed in a drone strike in December. Rauf, a British militant linked to a jetliner bomb plot, was also killed in a Predator strike in November 2008.

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