A 25-year-old Queens College graduate who travelled to Pakistan in 2008 with the Denver airport shuttle bus driver indicted last year in a Qaeda bomb plot was charged on Saturday with conspiring to commit murder in a foreign country and receiving training from a terrorist group.
The charges against the man, Adis Medunjanin, 25, contained in an indictment unsealed early Saturday afternoon in federal court in Brooklyn, did not relate directly to the bomb plot in which the shuttle bus driver, Najibullah Zazi, 24, was charged in September.
A Bosnian-born naturalised American citizen, the black-bearded Medunjanin pleaded not guilty at his arraignment on the charges, a four-minute proceeding before Magistrate Viktor V. Pohorelsky. Medunjanin faces a maximum of life in prison if convicted.
“We have declared very loudly that he is not guilty,” said Medunjanin’s lawyer, Robert C. Gottlieb.
Medunjanin is one of two men who made the trip to Pakistan with Zazi, who told FBI agents in September that he had received training there from the al-Qaeda in weapons and explosives, according to court papers filed in Zazi’s case. Justice Department officials have called that plot the most serious threat to the U.S. since the Sept. 11 attacks. Medunjanin and the other man, Zarein Ahmedzay, 24, have been under intense scrutiny by FBI agents and police detectives since the investigation of a plot burst into public view in mid-September.
On Thursday, shortly after investigators seized Medunjanin’s passport at the Queens apartment where he lives with his parents, he rammed his car into another motorist near the Whitestone Bridge, law enforcement officials said. According to the officials, he had just used his cell phone to dial 911, and, invoking Allah, exclaimed, “We love death more than you love life!” — © 2010 The New York Times News Service