NEW YORK — A former airport shuttle driver accused of buying beauty supplies to make bombs for an attack on New York City subways pleaded guilty Monday, admitting he agreed to conduct an al-Qaida-led "martyrdom plan."
Najibullah Zazi told a judge the terror network recruited him to be a suicide bomber in New York.
"I would sacrifice myself to bring attention to what the U.S. military was doing to civilians in Afghanistan," Zazi said in court.
The Associated Press learned earlier this month that the jailed Zazi had recently volunteered information about the bomb plot in the first step toward a plea deal in one of the most serious terrorism threats in the U.S. since Sept. 11, 2001.
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Zazi, 25, pleaded guilty to conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiring to commit murder in a foreign country and providing material support for a terrorist organization. He faces a life prison sentence without parole at a sentencing in June.
Zazi said in court that he went to Pakistan in 2008 to join the Taliban and fight against the U.S. military but was recruited by the terrorist network and went into a training camp in Warziristan, a region of Pakistan where al-Qaida is known to operate. Zazi said he received weapons training there and later learned about explosives.
The Pakistan Embassy in Washington declined to comment on Zazi's case.
Zazi admitted building homemade explosives with beauty supplies purchased in Denver suburbs and cooked up in a Colorado hotel room. He then drove the materials to New York just before the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
While entering the city, he was stopped by police for a routine traffic violation on the George Washington Bridge, which connects New Jersey and New York. Suspicious police allowed him to go free but kept a close watch on his movements.
Days later, authorities raided several Queens apartments, including a friend's home where Zazi had stayed.
Asked by federal Judge Raymond Dearie if he had been willing to be a suicide bomber, Zazi said, "Yes, your honor."
He said the terrorism plot was aimed at the city subway system but did not name a specific target.