Najibullah Zazi (born August 10, 1985, in a small village in the Paktia region of eastern Afghanistan) is a Pashtun citizen of Afghanistan and legal permanent resident of the United States. He was arrested in September 2009 as part of the 2009 U.S. Al Qaeda group accused of planning suicide bombings on the New York City subway system, and has pled guilty as have two other defendants. U.S. prosecutors said Saleh al-Somali, Al-Qaeda's head of external operations, and Rashid Rauf, an Al-Qaeda operative, ordered the attack. Both were reportedly later killed in drone attacks.
Zazi underwent weapons and explosives training at an al-Qaeda training camp in Pakistan in 2008. On September 9, 2009, he drove from his home in the Denver, Colorado, area to New York City, intending to detonate explosives on the New York City subway during rush hour as one of three coordinated suicide "martyrdom" bombings. Spooked, however, by surveillance by U.S. intelligence, and warned by a local imam that the authorities were inquiring about him, he abruptly flew back to Denver. He was arrested days later.
On February 22, 2010, he pled guilty to conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiring to commit murder in a foreign country, and providing material support to a terrorist organization. He said he was recruited by al-Qaeda in Pakistan for a suicide "martyrdom" attack against the U.S., and that his bombing target was the New York City subway system. Zazi faces a possible life sentence without possibility of parole for the first two counts, and an additional sentence of 15 years for the third count. Sentencing will take place on June 24, 2011.