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Zazi's father guilty in New York bomb plot coverup

Mohammed Zazi, father of Najibullah Zazi, and his lawyers leave Alfred A. Arraj Federal Courthouse in Denver
Mohammed Zazi, father of Najibullah Zazi, and his lawyers leave Alfred A. Arraj Federal Courthouse in Denver

By Jessica Dye

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Colorado man was convicted Friday of lying to investigators racing to uncover his son's plan to bomb New York City subways in 2009 and conspiring with others to conceal evidence of the failed plot.

A federal jury in Brooklyn found Mohammed Wali Zazi, 55, guilty on one count of conspiracy to obstruct justice and one count of obstruction of justice. He faces up to 40 years in prison when he is sentenced on December 2 and remains free on bail until then.

Zazi, a U.S. citizen born in Afghanistan, is the father of Najibullah Zazi, 26, who has admitted to planning an attack on New York City with help from al Qaeda operatives in Pakistan.

During the three-day trial, prosecutors said Mohammed Zazi and others warned Najibullah Zazi he was under investigation by the FBI and the New York Police Department and helped concoct a cover story for him after he was stopped while driving a rental car across the George Washington Bridge.

Two of Mohammed Zazi's relatives -- nephew Amanullah and brother-in-law Naqib Jaji -- said he told family members to destroy chemicals, masks and goggles used by Najibullah Zazi and to lie to a grand jury weighing charges against his son.

The failed plot was referenced often by prosecutors who showed forensic evidence revealing the presence of acetone, used to make explosives, left by Najibullah Zazi in the Aurora, Colorado home where he lived in 2009.

Federal investigators said Mohammed Zazi lied to them about not knowing a New York imam, Ahmad Wais Afzali, who in 2010 pleaded guilty to tipping off Najibullah Zazi that federal investigators suspected him of plotting an attack.

"This defendant sought to conceal one of the most violent terror plots in recent times," U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch said in a statement.

"He also enlisted others to help him spin his web of lies and to destroy key evidence. His actions, had they not been thwarted, would have left Americans at grave risk."

Amanullah Zazi faces up to 30 years in prison after admitting to leading his cousin Najibullah to an al Qaeda training camp in Pakistan, as well as helping to destroy bomb-making materials his cousin had used.

The brother-in-law, Naqib Jaji, also pleaded guilty in 2010 to obstructing justice in the investigation by covering for family members who destroyed the bomb-making evidence. Jaji faces up to 20 years in jail.

(Editing by Mark Egan and John O'Callaghan)

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