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Flushing man pleads not guilty on terrorism charges

One of three former Flushing High School students charged in connection with an alleged plot to blow up bombs in the city subway system has pleaded not guilty to several charges.

Adis Medunjanin, 26, denied Aug. 6 in federal court in Brooklyn that he was involved in the plot and also pleaded not guilty to a new charge added in July alleging that he tried to commit suicide by crashing his car on the Whitestone Expressway as police attempted to arrest him in January after he left his Mitchell Linden apartment.

The terror plot-related charges he pleaded not guilty to included conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, providing material support to Al Qaeda and receiving military training from a recognized terrorist organization.

“We love death more than you love life,” Medunjanin allegedly yelled Jan. 7 as he steered his car into another driver while trying to evade the Joint Terrorism Task Force, according to court documents. He was subsequently taken to New York Hospital Queens where injuries he sustained in the crash were treated, according to the documents, and was arrested and taken into federal custody.

Medunjanin’s attorney, Robert Gottlieb, has said he will submit a motion to have any statements Medunjanin made after his arrest but before he was given access to a lawyer suppressed.

“The government is free to characterize [the crash on the Whitestone Expressway],” Gottlieb said outside the courthouse Aug. 6, according to The New York Times. “What it really reflected, that car accident, ultimately is going to become very clear at the trial.”

Bosnian-born Medunjanin, a Queens College graduate, attended Flushing HS with Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay, both 26, and the three were all charged with being trained by Al Qaeda and planning to explode bombs during rush hour in some of the city’s busiest subway stations, according to court documents.

Zazi and Ahmedzay both pleaded guilty in February and both have since cooperated with federal authorities, giving prosecutors information that has contributed to their decision to file charges against alleged Al Qaeda leader Adnan El Shukrijumah, according to court documents. The charges accuse him with leading the subway plot and one in Manchester, England.

Shukrijumah allegedly trained Medunjanin, Ahmedzay and Zazi, as well as Pakistanis Abid Naseer and Tariq Ur Rehman, in how to make bombs to be used in the attacks, according to court documents.

Shukrijumah’s whereabouts are unknown, Naseer is in custody in England and will likely be brought to the United States to face his charges when he is captured and Rehman is at large in Pakistan, according to the Post.

Zazi told federal authorities earlier this year that he, Medunjanin and Ahmedzay flew to Afghanistan in 2008 to fight alongside the Taliban against the American military. When they met with Al Qaeda operatives there, they were given new orders, according to April testimony by Ahmedzay, instead being told they should train to “wage jihad” in the United States. They went to the Waziristan region and there learned how to be suicide bombers, Ahmedzay said.

After returning to America in January 2009, Ahmedzay and Zazi admitted they conspired to target the city’s subway system in Manhattan with bombs, aiming to kill as many people as possible, according to their court testimony. Medunjanin has said he was not involved in the plot.

Reach reporter Connor Adams Sheets by e-mail at csheets@cnglocal.com or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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