Zarein Ahmedzay, one of three Queens men who plotted a suicide bomb attack on New York City’s subways nearly a decade ago, was sentenced to 10 years in prison in Brooklyn federal court on Friday as prosecutors praised his cooperation after pleading guilty.
Ahmedzay didn’t walk out of court a free man, but since he was imprisoned when the plot was thwarted in 2010 and has also earned prison credits for good behavior, the sentence by U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie means he will be released very shortly, his lawyer said.
“Mr. Ahmedzay did all that he could and all that was asked of him over the last nine years to make amends for his actions,” said defense lawyer Michael Marinaccio. “He was grateful to have been given the opportunity to do so. He is not the person he was. He looks forward to being a productive member of society.”
Ahmedzay, then 23, was accused of traveling to Pakistan in 2008 with co-defendants Najibullah Zazi and Adis Medunjanin, where they joined al-Qaida and were sent back to the United States to conduct a suicide attack in the subways.
The plot was thwarted after Zazi, living in Colorado, had driven to New York City with detonators and chemical components for making bombs. Medunjanin was convicted after a trial and sentenced to life in prison. Ahmedzay and Zazi, who has not yet been sentenced, both pleaded guilty and cooperated.
Prosecutors, in a sentencing memo, told Dearie that Ahmedzay had provided “extraordinary” assistance — including information about al-Qaida, testimony at three trials, and assisting foreign governments.
He apologized and said he had been “manipulated” and “deceived.” Marinaccio said Ahmedzay hopes to complete his post-high school education and is interested in teaching and business.