Father of Zazi lies to feds, gets 4 1/2 years in prison

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The father of a Flushing-raised man who plotted to blow up New York City subway cars in 2009 was sentenced to 4 1/2 years in prison Friday for trying to throw the feds off the trail of his son.

Mohammed Wali Zazi, 56, was convicted in Brooklyn federal court last summer of trying to thwart a federal investigation into his son, Najibullah Zazi.

“This defendant sought to conceal one of the most serious terror plots in recent times,” U.S. Attorney Loretta Lynch said in a statement after his conviction. “He also enlisted others to help him spin his web of lies and to destroy key evidence. Had the plot not been thwarted, it would have left Americans at grave risk.”

The younger Zazi pleaded guilty in 2010 to charges that he conspired to use weapons of mass destruction, conspired to commit murder in a foreign country and provided material support to al-Qaeda. He could face up to life if prison when sentenced.

Prosecutors said back in 2009 that Mohammed Zazi tipped off his son once he learned that federal investigators were looking into the terror threat.

At the time, the family was living outside of Denver, where the younger Zazi hatched his plan and later drove to New York to carry it out before his father warned him.

Co-conspirator Zarein Ahmedzay also pleaded guilty in 2010 to conspiracy and providing support to a foreign terrorist organization. But Adis Medunjanin, who prosecutors allege was also part of the plot, has pleaded not guilty to terror charges.

The three men met at Flushing High School, and Medunjanin was arrested after he crashed his car on the Whitestone Expressway.

Najibullah Zazi also consulted with Flushing Imam Ahmad Wais Afzali, who was sentenced in April 2010 to time served and ordered to leave the country for lying to federal authorities about his talks with the younger Zazi.

Mohammed Zazi’s nephew also took a plea deal for his role in the terror plot and testified that his uncle had instructed family members to “take care” of bomb-making chemicals in the Denver household.

Amanullah Zazi, the nephew, also testified that his uncle instructed him to lie about Najibullah Zazi’s travels to Pakistan.

In 2008, the nephew told prosecutors that he had helped Najibullah Zazi, Zarein Ahmedzay and Adis Medunjanin, travel to Waziristan to receive terrorist training from al-Qaeda.

Najibullah Zazi and Ahmedzay have admitted they went, but Medunjanin has denied it.

When Mohammed Zazi’s nephew approached him about it, the older Zazi said not to say anything about the trip.

The charges against the 56-year-old carried a maximum sentence of up to several decades, but Federal Judge John Gleeson gave Zazi less than five.

Reach reporter Joe Anuta by e-mail at januta@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Posted 12:15 am, February 16, 2012
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