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Najibullah Zazi, Would-Be Subway Bomber, Sentenced To Time Served After 'Extraordinary' Cooperation With Prosecutors

Najibullah Zazi leaves a federal building in Denver following his 2009 arrest
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Najibullah Zazi leaves a federal building in Denver following his 2009 arrest Ed Andrieski/AP/Shutterstock

Najibullah Zazi, the ringleader of a failed plot to suicide bomb the New York City subway in 2009, received a ten year sentence—the equivalent of time served—from a Brooklyn federal judge on Thursday. Following the sentencing, Zazi's defense attorney told reporters that he expected Zazi to be a free man in a matter of days.

The light sentence for the former Queens resident and would-be terrorist comes after prosecutors highlighted Zazi's "extraordinary" role in cooperating with authorities over the last decade. On Wednesday, the government revealed that Zazi had met with them more than 100 times since 2010, after he pleaded guilty to conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and providing material support to a terrorist organization.

Zazi, who was born in Afghanistan and raised in Queens, admitted to traveling to Pakistan and receiving explosives training from al-Qaeda in 2008. Along with two co-conspirators, he planned to carry out a rush hour bombing of the subway on the eighth anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. According to then-Attorney General Eric Holder, the failed plot represented "one of the most serious terrorist threats to our country since Sept. 11."

Documents filed Wednesday in federal court show that, in the years since his plea, Zazi has "provided critical intelligence and unique insight regarding al-Qaeda and its members, provided information that led to terrorism charges against numerous individuals, and testified as a witness in two terrorism trials in the Eastern District of New York, leading to successful criminal prosecutions and convictions."

Prosecutors also noted that Zazi "broke down in tears" while testifying against his co-conspirator Adis Medunjanin, "reflecting the difficulty Zazi had testifying against a close friend." Medunjanin was sentenced to life in prison in 2012.

The third person involved in the foiled subway attack, Zarein Ahmedzay, also cooperated with authorities and received a ten year sentence last December.

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