NEW YORK — A New York City man was sentenced to life in prison on Friday for conspiring to form a three-man terrorist cell with two former high school classmates and spread death on the subways as suicide bombers — a foiled plot that authorities called one of the closest calls since the 9/11 attacks.
Adis Medunjanin, a 28-year-old US citizen from Bosnia, was convicted this year of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, attempting to commit an act of terrorism, and other terrorism charges.
In court papers, prosecutors had argued for a life term for Medunjanin, saying he ‘‘committed a host of heinous crimes aimed at killing and maiming his fellow American citizens in order to alter and take revenge for American foreign policy.’’
At trial, defense attorneys had admitted that Medunjanin wanted to fight for the Taliban, but they insisted he never agreed to spread death and destruction in the city where his family put down roots.
The trial ending in May was mostly notable because it featured the first-ever testimony from admitted homegrown terrorists about Al Qaeda’s determination to strike America on its home turf.
Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay testified that the three men sought terrorist training after falling under the influence of inflammatory recordings of US-born extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki that they downloaded and listened to on their iPods. They testified as part of plea deal.
The plot was abandoned after Zazi noticed that everywhere he drove in New York, a car followed.