WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
Sister of Suspected Subway Plotter Gives Tearful Testimony as Trial Winds Down
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
The sister of a man accused in an alleged plot in 2009 to attack New York's subways with suicide bombs testified in his terror trial Wednesday as both sides wrapped up their arguments in the trial of the man accused of plotting the attacks in 2009.
Alisa Madunjanin on Wednesday gave a tearful account of a raid at their home, when more than a dozen agents with heavy weaponry and riot gear stormed the sixth-floor apartment where she lived with her brother and parents.
Her brother, Adis Madunjanin, has been charged with becoming an al-Qaida operative who discussed bombing movie theaters, Grand Central Terminal, Times Square and the New York Stock Exchange before settling on the city's subways.
"They told us to get on the ground, put up our hands," she said, crying. "They cuffed us."
She testified that she thought her brother went to Pakistan to get married.
Her mother, Favila Medunjanin, testified through an interpreter that the family came to the U.S. in 1994 as refugees and eventually found work. She said FBI agents showed up at her work, speaking to her in her native language, telling her that her son should tell them what he knows.
Medunjanin, a Bosnian-born U.S. citizen, is on trial for his alleged role in a plot to use suicide bomb attacks in the city's subway system in September 2009. Medunjanin, 27, and two former high school classmates reportedly had traveled to an al-Qaida camp in Pakistan and allegedly got weapons and bomb making training.
Medunjanin has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, providing material support to a terrorist organization and other charges.
The defense called both women to the stand in the trial of the former cab driver, whose lawyer argues federal agents unfairly coerced him into making incriminating statements after they intimidated his family.
Medunjanin rebuffed the government's offer to cooperate according to his lawyers because he would not plead guilty to charges that he planned to be a suicide bomber. However, his two classmates Zarein Ahmedzay, 27, and Najibullah Zazi, 26, took guilty pleas and are cooperating with the prosecution.
Medunjanin's defense counsel argued that Medunjanin rejected the idea of becoming a suicide bomber and actually had a falling out with Ahmedzay and Zazi that turned physical at the training camp.
The last government witness gave details on Wednesday about what happened the day Medunjanin was arrested and a marathon interrogation session that happened the next day.
Government officials described Medunjanin as civil but "proud of his accomplishments" which included getting to the training camp and meeting top al-Qaida leadership. They also said he posited the idea of a prisoner swap.
But the defense asked the agents to recall other things Medunjanin reportedly said during the marathon encounter, including that he had no intention of becoming a suicide bomber.
Closing arguments in the case are expected Thursday.