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When plea bargaining ceases to be a bargain

Effected by the deaths of civilians in his native Afghanistan, Najibullah Zazi, a man who once operated a coffee cart near the World Trade Center site hatched a plan to join the Taliban and fight the U.S. military. Zazi traveled to Pakistan in August 2008 but never made it to Afghanistan. Al Qaeda operatives spotted him. They had more ambitious plans and conspired with him to try to help him die a martyr in a bombing of the New York subway system, he admitted Monday in federal court. ”I had discussions with Al Qaeda leaders, including target locations, such as New York City subways,” he said. Zazi, a former Colorado airport shuttle driver, pleaded guilty Monday in Brooklyn federal court to conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiring to commit murder in a foreign country and providing material support for a terrorist organization. The 25-year-old faces life in prison without parole when he’s sentenced in June. The jailed Zazi had recently volunteered information about the bomb plot in the first step toward a plea deal – an obvious move by prosecutors to expand the case and bring charges against other suspects. Already charged are an imam, a cab driver and Zazi’s uncle and father, who’s been accused of trying to dispose of chemicals. But if Zazi plea bargains who is it a bargain for? Zazi? Other Muslim terrorists? The United States? Who stands to lose the most if Zazi is spared and potentially returns to society in a matter of years? GO!

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