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Subway terror plot trial continues Monday

Monday, April 23, 2012

The trial of the man accused of plotting to attack the New York City subway system continues Monday in Brooklyn.

Prosecutors are expected to continue playing testimony of a man convicted of terrorism charges in Britain.

They say his testimony about al-Qaida's leadership and training methods supports other witness statements about Adis Medunjanin.

Medunjanin's alleged co-conspirators have already pleaded guilty.

In a videotaped deposition made public for the first time Thursday, Saajid Badat, the suspect in an aborted shoe-bombing mission, admitted meeting with Osama bin Laden after deciding to fight jihad against the West.

U.S. prosecutors and defense attorneys interviewed Badat just outside London late last month in preparation for Medunjanin's trial.

Badat said that he refused a request to testify in person because he remains under indictment in Boston on charges alleging he conspired with shoe-bomber Richard Reid.

"If I go to the United States, I'll be arrested," Badat said on the tape played for a jury on Thursday in federal court in Brooklyn.

British authorities had revealed earlier this week that Badat would have a role in the Medunjanin prosecution, calling him the first person convicted in the United Kingdom on terrorism charges to agree to give evidence at the trial of alleged terrorists.

Badat, 33, pleaded guilty in Britain to plotting with Reid to bring down separate American trans-Atlantic flights using bombs hidden in their shoes. Unlike Reid, he backed out at the last minute.

"I agreed to take an explosive on an aircraft and explode it," he said in the video, looking clean-cut and wearing a suit.

He also testified that he had "direct interaction" with bin Laden "more than once" after traveling to Afghanistan in 1999. At the time, he knew the terror network as "The Sheik's Group," with "sheik" referring to bin Laden.

Medunjanin is accused of traveling to Pakistan with two friends from his Queens high school in 2008 and receiving terror training from al-Qaida. Prosecutors allege the men, including admitted mastermind Najibullah Zazi, agreed to seek martyrdom by dying as suicide bombers in an attack on Manhattan subway lines at rush hour.

Medunjanin, 27, a Bosnian-born naturalized U.S. citizen, has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, providing material support to a terrorist organization and other charges. He has denied he was ever part of an al-Qaida operation.

Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay pleaded guilty to the plot in 2010 and were jailed without bail after agreeing to become government witnesses in a bid for leniency. Both testified against Medunjanin earlier this week.

Badat had no involvement with the men. Prosecutors instead want to use his testimony to corroborate what Zazi and Ahmedzay have said about al-Qaida's leadership and training methods.

The British-born son of Malawi immigrants, Badat was 21 when he traveled to both Afghanistan and Pakistan. While in Afghanistan, he was given an explosive device designed to evade airport security and destroy an aircraft in flight, authorities said.

Badat returned to Britain with the device on Dec. 10, 2001. He ended up stashing the bomb under a bed in his family home in Gloucester, England, and resumed his academic studies. He later told authorities he backed out because he was hoping "to introduce calm into his life."

British intelligence tracked down Badat two years later and arrested after investigators matched cords on Reid's device to those on Badat's bomb.

Badat was sentenced to 13 years in prison. But British authorities announced this week that in 2009 a judge secretly reduced his sentence to 11 years to reward him for his cooperation in terror investigations.

The Brooklyn jury only heard about the first 10 minutes of the videotape, which lasts more than two hours. The rest will be played when the trial resumes on Monday.

Reid attempted to bring down a plane in December 2001 and is serving a life sentence in a high-security U.S. prison.

(The Associated Press contributed to this story)

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new york city, adis medunjanin, subway terror plot, najibullah zazi, new york news
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