Why Najibullah Zazi Pleaded Guilty

February 23 2010, 9:41 AM

Aurora airport-shuttle driver Najibullah Zazi has pleaded guilty to plotting what could have been the worst terror incident on U.S. soil since the 9/11 attacks. "Your Honor, during the spring and summer of 2008, I conspired with others to travel to Afghanistan to join the Taliban and fight against the U.S. military and its allies," Zazi, born in Afghanistan and a U.S. resident, said in court yesterday (via The Associated Press). Zazi, who wanted to detonate explosives in New York's subway system, pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction to commit murder and provide material support to al-Qaida (via ABC News). The events came with little prior warning and ended almost anti-climatically. But even if the poster child for the case is now out of the spotlight, the probe is still ongoing, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder says, praising agents, including those in Denver, for their work (via 9News). "This attempted attack on our homelands was real," adds Holder, who has faced an onslaught of criticism from the political right and left for his handling of tricky and mostly unprecedented terror cases, particularly that of Khalid Sheik Mohammed (via The New Yorker). "It was in motion, and it would have been deadly." Zazi is now expected to cooperate with prosecutors, who may expand the case and bring charges against other suspects, notes The Christian Science Monitor, which reports that terrorism officials believe the government probably would not have agreed to let Zazi plead guilty with the prospect of some leniency at sentencing without the belief that he has information that could be helpful in saving lives.

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