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Father of Flushing’s Zazi pleads not guilty to visa fraud

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The father of Najibullah Zazi, an admitted terrorist who grew up in Flushing and graduated from Flushing High School, has pleaded not guilty to a charge of visa fraud.

Mohammed Wali Zazi, 55, who was convicted in a separate case in Brooklyn federal court July 22 of destroying bomb-making materials and conspiring to obstruct a federal investigation into his son’s foiled plot, pleaded not guilty to lying on documents in August 1997 in order to help his nephew travel from Afghanistan to New York.

The elder Zazi is the fifth one-time Flushing resident convicted of federal charges in connection with the terror plot, in which Najibullah admitted he was one of three men who plotted to blow up explosives in the New York City subway system to coincide with Sept. 11, 2009.

Appearing before Judge Colleen McMahon, Mohammed Wali Zazi pleaded not guilty Sept. 14 to the visa fraud charge, which was filed in federal court in Manhattan and alleges that he lied on visa documents by saying his nephew was actually his son.

The indictment, filed July 15, does not identify the nephew by name, but former Flushing resident Amanullah Zazi, who allegedly came into America under similar circumstances to the ones outlined in the July indictment, has testified against him in federal court in Brooklyn. Amanullah Zazi has pleaded guilty to destroying evidence, lying to a grand jury and helping Najibullah Zazi and the other terror plotters find terrorist training from al-Qaeda in Waziristan in 2008.

Mohammed Wali Zazi is charged with providing two fraudulent affidavits signed by individuals who said they knew the nephew was the elder Zazi’s son because they were present at his birth, according to the indictment, which did not name the two individuals. Mohammed Wali Zazi allegedly went on to compel his attorney to say in a cover letter for a refugee/asylee relative petition that his nephew’s birth certificate was destroyed in Afghanistan.

The federal Immigration and Naturalization Service granted the petition on or about May 26, 1998, which allowed the nephew to come to America that year, according to the indictment. Then, in June 2006, Mohammed Wali Zazi allegedly listed the nephew as one of his sons on an application for his own naturalization, the indictment said.

A source close to the trial said in July that other charges may be brought against Mohammed Wali Zazi in Colorado, where he lived at the time of his Feb. 1, 2010, arrest.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

Updated 12:57 pm, September 22, 2011
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