The failed plot to bomb three New York City subways in September 2009 was hatched by two senior Al-Qaeda leaders in the tribal areas of Pakistan, prosecutors said as another accused pleaded guilty.
New details about the aborted terror mission of three would-be suicide attackers as Zarein Ahmedzay, a Queens taxi driver, admitted his role in the plot during a hearing in federal court in Brooklyn on Friday.
Ahmedzay joins Najibullah Zazi of Denver, who earlier pleaded guilty to participating in the alleged subway plot. The action leaves a single defendant, Adis Medunjanin, to stand trial on a five-count indictment. All three face up to life in prison.
According to federal prosecutors, the three men travelled to Pakistan in August 2008 and met with twoleaders, Saleh Al-Somali, head of international operations for Al Qaeda, and Rashid Rauf, described as a key Al-Qaeda operative.
The three Americans told the Al-Qaeda officials they wanted to fight in Afghanistan, but the leaders suggested they would be more useful to Al-Qaeda if they returned to New York to carry out suicide attacks, prosecutors said.
According to US officials, the men agreed to carry out the attacks. They said the Al-Qaeda leaders encouraged the men to strike well-known structures in New York City and to maximise the number of casualties.
During the proceeding, Ahmedzay, a short, bearded man wearing a blue prison smock with a long-sleeved white T-shirt beneath it and blue prison pants, quoted from the Koran before describing his role in the bomb plot, the New York Times reported.
Then, appearing at ease, he began an angry rant, suggesting that a Zionist conspiracy represents a greater threat to the United States than Al-Qaeda does.
The judge eventually interrupted him. Moments before, Ahmedzaytried tried to say what had motivated him and his co-defendants, but US Magistrate Judge Steven M Gold cut him off, saying, "It doesn't matter."
"The facts disclosed today add chilling details to what we know was a deadly plot hatched by Al-Qaeda leaders overseas to kill scores of Americans in the New York City subway system," said Attorney General Eric Holder in a statement in Washington.
"Ahmedzay's plea makes clear that he betrayed his adopted country and its people by providing support to Al-Qaeda and planning to bring deadly violence to New York," said FBI Director Robert Mueller.