Updated 01/08/2010 11:51 PM
Two Queens Men Arrested In Connection With Local Terror Probe
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A Queens cab driver pleaded not guilty to lying to federal agents in Brooklyn Federal Court and another Queens man awaited arraignment Friday in connection with last summer's terror probe in the city.
Zarein Ahmedzay, 24, an Afghan-born resident of Flushing, seen above, pleaded not guilty to charges of lying to a federal agent and is being held without bail.
Ahmedzay was arrested by the Joint Terrorism Task Force Friday morning as he was driving his taxi through Greenwich Village.
Adis Medunjanin, a Bosnian-born building superintendent and resident of Long Island City, was also arrested Friday morning by the JTTF and was expected to be arraigned Saturday morning.
Prosecutors say Ahmedzay, when questioned in connection with the summer arrest of former Queens resident and terror suspect Najibullah Zazi, failed to name all the places he and Zazi traveled to in Pakistan and Afghanistan.
The indictment also claims Ahmedzay "falsely stated to special agents of the FBI that he did not know whether 'John Doe' attended a camp to receive military-type training while in Pakistan."
Prosecutors are not identifying "John Doe."
Ahmedzay remained in federal custody late Friday and will have a bail hearing Tuesday.
As of late Friday, officials had not yet revealed the charges against Medunjanin, seen right, but the Associated Press reported he will likely be charged with providing material for terrorism.
Medunjanin was hospitalized Thursday following a car accident on the Whitestone Expressway, which happened about an hour after the FBI seized his passport and served him with a search warrant.
The FBI says there was no chase, but that Medunjanin, who was raised and educated in Queens, was under surveillance.
People briefed on the case say he tried to run from the scene, but was captured by investigators and treated for minor injuries at a Queens hospital.
The suspects were put under surveillance last summer after it was found both had traveled to Pakistan with Zazi in 2008.
Last year, Zazi was charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction.
"I can't discuss the specifics of this case, but it's believed that both of these men are associates of Zazi," said FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko.
"The relationships between the various parties is something that will find out over time," said Ahmedzay's attorney, Michael Narinaccio, after today's hearing. "But right now, I don't know anything. I know pretty much what you know as far as what the allegations are. The allegations are set out in the indictment, the indictment indicates that [Ahmedzay] was less than truthful with the FBI agents when he spoke to them."
Robert Gottlieb, a lawyer for Medunjanin, said Friday that he had not spoken to his client. But he said that it is believed the passport, which was willingly handed over by his client's parents, was taken in connection to an investigation into a conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction. He also claimed the FBI was playing a "very cruel game" with his client prior to the arrest, despite the fact that he said his client cooperated fully with investigators.
Gottlieb said his client, an ethnic Bosnian, has always claimed he has no terrorist ties other than the fact that he grew up in the same neighborhood as Zazi.
Medunjanin, Ahmedzay and Zazi all attended Flushing High School.
Gottlieb would not confirm or deny Medunjanin's alleged trip to Pakistan, which was reported in the New York Times.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said Friday that the arrests are another reminder that the city needs to be on alert.
"New York is, because it’s a symbol of democracy and of the United States to many people around the world, it is always going to be a target,” said the mayor. “And we cannot let down our guard. We have 1,000 police officers dedicated to intelligence and counter terrorism. We have police officers stationed in cities around the world to better coordinate with other intelligence agencies, and we have personnel with the FBI's Joint Terrorism Task Force."
Bloomberg said the arrests came from a joint investigation between the FBI and the New York City Police Department.