Queens Man Charged With Getting al-Qaida Training

Medunjanin arrested after wrecking car, allegedly trying to duck FBI tail

By TOM HAYS
|  Saturday, Jan 9, 2010  |  Updated 3:06 PM EDT
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Two Queens men were arrested by the FBI in connection with the terror investigation into Najibullah Zazi.

Two Queens men were arrested by the FBI in connection with the terror investigation into Najibullah Zazi.

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Man under FBI Surveillance ends up in car crash

An associate of terror suspect Najibullah Zazi crashed his car Thursday while being followed by the FBI, law enforcement sources tell nbcnewyork.com.Earlier in the day, the FBI again searched the residence of Bosnian immigrant Adis Medunjanin in connection with the ongoing investigation.Law enforcement sources said that after the search Medunjanin drove off in a car on the Whitestone Expressway and got into an accident with the FBI following close behind.
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A Queens man under investigation for his links to a terror suspect pleaded not guilty Saturday to charges that he flew to Pakistan to get military training from al-Qaida.

Adis Medunjanin entered the plea during a swift arraignment at a federal court in Brooklyn. He faces counts of receiving military training from a foreign terrorist organization and conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country.

The 25-year-old was one of two Queens men arrested early Friday in connection with the investigation of Najibullah Zazi, a Colorado airport driver who pleaded not guilty last year to supporting terrorism.

The indictment made public by prosecutors on Saturday provided scant details on the accusations against Medunjanin, who was born in Bosnia but is a U.S. citizen.

It said the charges were related to a trip he made to Pakistan in August of 2008. Prosecutors have said that Zazi, Medunjanin and a third man, Zarein Ahmedzay, traveled there together that summer. All three attended high school together and lived for years in the same Queens neighborhood.

Zazi has been under arrest since September, charged with getting explosives training from al-Qaida and later hatching a foiled plot to attack targets in New York with homemade bombs.

The new indictment did not directly tie Medunjanin to the New York plot -- what Attorney General Eric Holder has called one of the most serious terrorism cases since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.
    
Outside court, defense attorney Robert C. Gottlieb told reporters that his client's not guilty plea was "emphatic." He accused authorities of holding and interrogating Medunjanin for two days without letting him see his family or a lawyer.
    
"The questioning was illegal," Gottlieb said. Prosecutors declined to comment.

Ahmedzay pleaded not guilty Friday to charges that he lied to the FBI during the probe about places he visited during the 2008 trip. He was taken into custody early Friday morning while working a late-night shift driving a cab in Manhattan.

Ahmedzay, 24, and Medunjanin were first publicly linked to the investigation in September, when the FBI raided their homes shortly before Zazi's arrest.

FBI agents had Medunjanin under surveillance, but apparently did not intend to arrest him when they went to his Queens apartment Thursday afternoon to seize his passport. Once that happened, authorities say he became upset and took off in his car.

A law enforcement official confirmed reports that Medunjanin then phoned 911 and ranted in Arabic, "We love death more than you love life,'' before purposely ramming his car into another vehicle and fleeing on foot.

The official was not authorized to discuss the arrest and spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity.

After being captured and treated for minor injuries, federal investigators took him into custody.

Defense attorney Robert C. Gottlieb insisted Friday that Medunjanin had done nothing wrong. He claimed that federal authorities had questioned him for hours without letting him speak to a lawyer or his family.

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