Closing arguments in subway plot trial
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A defense lawyer for alleged subway bomb plotter Adis Medunjanin accused prosecutors of using improper scare tactics and said plot mastermind Najibullah Zazi had falsely implicated his former friend as the jury in the subway terror trial heard closing arguments Thursday.
Lawyer Robert Gottlieb told a Brooklyn federal court jury that Medunjanin's visit to an al-Qaida training camp in Pakistan in 2008 was like a wannabe athlete's visit to a fantasy baseball camp, and said that, unlike former schoolmate Zazi, he returned to the United States without ever joining a suicide plot.
"He is done," Gottlieb said. "He is different than Zazi . . . Adis is no longer involved in anything."
Medunjanin, 28, a former doorman, faces life in prison if he is convicted of going to Pakistan to join the Taliban and kill American troops, and then signing up for an al-Qaida suicide mission to attack the subways.
Zazi and a third Queens schoolmate, Zarein Ahmedzay, have pleaded guilty in the plot and testified against Medunjanin. When the plot was broken up in September 2009, authorities said Zazi had mixed an explosive and was days away from launching the attack.
All three, according to testimony at trial, initially resisted al-Qaida's suggestion of a plot. Medunjanin had personal disputes with the other two, returned early to the United States without undergoing explosives training, and did not participate in constructing the bomb or meetings to pick the target during 2009.
The only evidence that Medunjanin was on board, Gottlieb said, was the word of Zazi and Ahmedzay. He repeatedly referred to them as "lying terrorist killers," lashing prosecutors for basing the case on them.
"They are not worthy of one ounce of respect, one ounce of believability," Gottlieb said.
He also castigated prosecutors for calling aspiring British shoe bomber Saajid Bedat and Long Island al-Qaida recruit Bryant Vinas -- who admitted they knew nothing about the subway plot or plotters, but described other al-Qaida terror schemes.
"Why were they called, other than to scare the living daylights out of you," he said.
Prosecutor David Bitkower, in his rebuttal, said the government didn't pick Zazi and Ahmedzay as ideal witnesses -- Medunjanin picked Zazi and Ahmedzay as his traveling companions to Pakistan and al-Qaida -- and said they were his best friends.