NEW: A federal jury in New York begins deliberations in Adis Medunjanin's case
He is accused of conspiring with two others to bomb New York's subway system
His defense lawyer denies that his client was part of any such plot
Medunjanin went to Pakistan to join the Taliban, not al Qaeda, his lawyer says
A federal jury began deliberations Monday in the case of a man accused – with two others – of plotting to bomb New York’s subway system.
Prosecutors say Adis Medunjanin, a Bosnian-born American, conspired with admitted terrorists Najubullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay in the terrorist plot planned, but never executed, in 2009.
In closing arguments at Adis Medunjanin’s trial in Brooklyn federal court Thursday, assistant U.S. attorney, Berit Berger, said the Bosnian-born American was willing “to strap a suicide bomb to himself, walk into a New York City subway and blow it up.”
Berger told jurors that al Qaeda leaders assigned the mission to Medunjanin during a 2008 trip he took to Pakistan with two high school friends, Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay.
But in his closing, Medunjanin’s attorney, Robert Gottlieb, said his client’s travel to Pakistan was “not to join al Qaeda, but to join the Taliban in fighting foreign troops in Afghanistan.
Gottlieb said Medunjanin wanted to join the Taliban to stand up for Muslims and defend his religion. He called the three young men, “immature, naive and clueless” when they set out to travel to Afghanistan.
“They wanted to fulfill some romantic version of jihad,” Gottlieb said.
Upon their return to the United States, prosecutors contend that Medunjanin and his two friends hatched a plan to rig backpacks with explosives and blow them up.
But Gottlieb denies his client had a role in the bomb plot.
Medunjanin has pleaded not guilty to charges that include conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction and conspiring to provide material support to al Qaeda. He faces life in prison if convicted.
Co-conspirators Zazi, an immigrant from Pakistan, and Ahmedzay, an immigrant from Afghanistan, have pleaded guilty to planning the attack with him and are awaiting sentencing.
Zazi and Ahmedzay have cooperated with the government and testified last week at Medunjanin’s trial.