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Life Sentence in Al-Qaida Plot to Bomb NYC Trains

BROOKLYN, N.Y. (CN) - A federal judge entered a life sentence against a Queens man who tried to kill commuters in a bridge accident after authorities foiled his subway-bombing plot.

Prosecutors say Adis Medunjanin, 34, and his accomplices came within days of executing their plot to conduct coordinated suicide bombings in the New York City subway system in September 2009.

Senior leaders of al-Qaida had trained the men to conduct terrorist attacks a year earlier in Pakistan, teaching them to use AK-47s, PK machine guns and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

Prepared to martyr themselves in New York, Medunjanin returned to the United States with his co-conspirators, Najibullah Zazi and Zarein Ahmedzay.

They planned to coordinate suicide bombings on the subways during the Muslim holiday of Ramadan, which fell in late August and September 2009.

Zazi bought large quantities of chemicals to produce the explosive TATP (Triacetone Triperoxide), but federal investigators found bomb-making residue in the Denver hotel room where he had been mixing the chemicals.

Law enforcement was allegedly closing in on Zazi as he drove from Denver to New York in early September with operational detonator explosives and other bomb-making materials.

"In an unsuccessful effort to avoid detection, the men discarded the explosives and other bomb-making materials, and Zazi traveled back to Denver, where he was arrested on Sept. 19, 2009," according to a statement from prosecutors.

After authorities searched Medunjanin's home in January, Medunjanin tried to kill himself and others in a high-speed car crash on the Whitestone Expressway.

"Moments before impact, Medunjanin called 9-1-1, identified himself, and left his message of martyrdom, shouting the al-Qaeda slogan: 'We love death more than you love your life,'" prosecutors said in a statement.

A jury convicted Medunjanin on May 1, 2012, of several terror charges. Another six co-conspirators, including Zazi and Ahmedzay, have also been convicted in connection with the bombing plot and related charges.

Prosecutors called their plan "one of the most serious terrorist plots against the United States since 9/11."

U.S. District Judge John Gleeson presided over the case. The sentence was entered Friday.

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