A man who was convicted of plotting with two friends to carry out a coordinated suicide attack on New York City subways was sentenced to life in prison on Friday.
Federal authorities deemed the plan one of the most dangerous terrorist plots against the city.
The man, Adis Medunjanin, 28, who was born in Bosnia and grew up in Queens, was considered the heart and soul of the plot — though not its mastermind — the one whose increasingly radical beliefs in Islam inspired him and two high school friends to participate in jihad. They went to Pakistan with the hope of joining the Taliban in the fight against American troops and wound up at a training camp run by Al Qaeda.
During the brief sentencing hearing in Federal District Court in Brooklyn on Friday, Mr. Medunjanin, wearing a crumpled black suit, and his long hair swept behind his ears, spent several minutes singing verses from the Koran.
Judge John Gleeson politely interrupted once, telling Mr. Medunjanin that while the life sentence was mandatory for a conviction for plotting to use an explosive device, he had the opportunity to argue for leniency on other counts. But Mr. Medunjanin, who maintained throughout the trial that he was never part of the subway bombing plot, followed his Koran recitations with a description of what he considered the darker sides of American foreign policy: abuse of prisoners at Abu Ghraib, the use of waterboarding and the killing of innocent civilians during the Iraq war. He closed with an exclamation.
“I had nothing to do with any subway plot or bombing plot whatsoever,” he said. “I ask Allah to release me from prison.”
Judge Gleeson, who expressed bafflement that a young man from a good family could take such a violent turn, said he heard Mr. Medunjanin’s claim that he was not involved with the subway plot — saying the government’s evidence was “least strong” on those charges — but pushed the defendant for “recognition on his part on how atrocious these crimes were.” None came.
“You’ve become more of an object, more of an exhibit of the path you chose than the thinking, feeling, loving brother and son that you used to be,” Judge Gleeson said. “You’re asking me to sentence you like the committed, anti-American jihadist you want to be for the rest of your life.”
Judge Gleeson added 95 years to the mandatory life sentence.
Mr. Medunjanin’s actions before his arrest were held up as a sign of the seriousness of the men’s intent. While driving his car, he called 911 and delivered what prosecutors called a common jihadist motto: “We love death more than you love life.” Moments later, he deliberately crashed into another vehicle on the Whitestone Bridge, in what prosecutors called a failed suicide attack.
Many back posts here, including video of Bosnian terror suspect’s 911 call – “we love death, no god but Allah”.