Bomb plotter who helped police set to be released
A man who plotted to bomb New York City’s subways, then switched sides after his arrest and spent nearly a decade helping U.S. authorities identify and prosecute terrorists, was rewarded for his help Thursday with a sentence of 10 years in prison, effectively time he has already served.
Najibullah Zazi, a 33-year-old naturalized citizen who became radicalized and received explosives training from al-Qaeda after traveling to Pakistan in 2008, faced up to life in prison after pleading guilty to terrorism-related charges.
The subway plot sent shock waves through New York and the federal law enforcement community, underscoring the continuing threat of terrorism years after 9/11. But federal prosecutors said Zazi, after his 2009 arrest, provided “extraordinary” assistance to U.S. counterterrorism authorities, implicating his closest friends and offering a window into the inner workings of al-Qaeda.
U.S. District Judge Raymond J. Dearie described Zazi’s cooperation as “unprecedented,” referring in part to federal investigations that remain ongoing.
Zazi apologized and asked for forgiveness. He said he is not the same person he was more than a decade ago, when he became radicalized in part by listening to sermons by Anwar al-Awlaki, the al-Qeida propagandist.
Zazi will remain on supervised release — federal probation — for the rest of his life. The sentence also requires he continue to cooperate with federal authorities.
The 10-year sentence means Zazi could be released from prison “within days,” said his defense attorney, William J. Stampur. Zazi has been in custody for nearly a decade.
— Associated Press
Member of church that was burned sentenced for arson
A member of an African American church in Mississippi has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for burning the church, which was also spray painted with “Vote Trump” a week before the 2016 presidential election.
Andrew McClinton, 47, was sentenced Thursday in Greenville, WLBT-TV reported. Circuit Judge Margaret Carey-McCray also gave him 10 years of supervised release after prison. McClinton pleaded guilty to arson on March 28.
Investigators said McClinton belonged to the church that was vandalized and burned, Hopewell Missionary Baptist in Greenville.
Some initially suspected the fire was a hate crime. But Washington County District Attorney Dewayne Richardson said McClinton was trying to hide illicit activities he had done inside the church. The night the church was burned, the members had planned to gather and McClinton believed they were going to disclose those activities, Richardson said.
McClinton was sentenced as a habitual offender because of felony convictions for attempted armed robbery in 1997 and armed robbery in 2004, both in another part of Mississippi.
— Associated Press
Suspect in student’s rape pleads guilty
A man who fled to Mexico after authorities identified him as a suspect in the rape of a Connecticut university student has pleaded guilty to multiple charges.
The Connecticut Post reported that Edibaldo Duran, 29, pleaded guilty Thursday to home invasion and aggravated first-degree sexual assault for the September 2014 attack on the Sacred Heart University student.
He faces 20 years in prison and is scheduled to be sentenced July 12.
Authorities say Duran broke into the victim’s apartment while she was asleep and raped her.
Police released a sketch of the suspect based on the victim’s description, and two witnesses later identified the sketch as Duran.
Police tracked Duran to JFK airport, but his plane was gone by the time they arrived. He was later found in Puebla, Mexico.
— Associated Press
Prosecutors seek to disqualify defense attorney for Huawei: U.S. prosecutors on Thursday filed a motion to disqualify the lead defense lawyer for Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. from the case against the Chinese company for alleged bank fraud and sanctions violations, according to a filing in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn. The lawyer, James Cole, is a former deputy attorney general of the United States. The government did not make public why it is seeking to remove Cole from the case. In a letter to the court, prosecutors said they had filed a sealed, classified motion to disqualify Cole and expected to file a public version by May 10.
Virginia man held for suspected terrorism ties: Federal authorities have arrested a Virginia man accused of lying about his ties to foreign terrorist organizations. Justice Department spokesman Brian McGinn confirmed Thursday that Waqar Ul-Hassan was arrested at Charlotte Douglas International Airport in North Carolina on Tuesday when he returned from Pakistan. A criminal complaint filed by a U.S. attorney’s office in Virginia said Hassan lied to FBI agents in 2015 about collecting money and food for an extremist group in Pakistan, Jaish-e-Mohammad. Hassan became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2002.
— From news services