NEW YORK–A former Denver airport shuttle driver admitted Monday to a plot to bomb the New York City subways, saying he was recruited by Al Qaeda in Pakistan for a "martyrdom plan" against the United States.
"I would sacrifice myself to bring attention to what the U.S. military was doing to civilians in Afghanistan," Najibullah Zazi, 25, told a federal judge in a Brooklyn courtroom.
The Afghan native pleaded guilty to conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction, conspiracy to commit murder in a foreign country and providing material support for a terrorist organization.
He faces life in prison without parole at a sentencing in June.
Zazi said he went to Pakistan in 2008 to join the Taliban and fight against the American military but was recruited by the terrorist network and went into a training camp.
He admitted building homemade explosives with beauty supplies purchased in the Denver suburbs and cooked up in a Colorado hotel room, then driving them to New York City just before the eighth anniversary of the Sept. 11 terror attacks.
Zazi told authorities he disposed of the explosives once arriving in New York.
He said the terrorism plot was aimed at the city subway system but wouldn't name a specific target when asked by U.S. District Judge Raymond Dearie.
Zazi was arrested Sept. 20, 2009, after arousing authorities' suspicions by his cross-country drive to New York around the anniversary of 9/11.
Authorities allege Zazi travelled twice to Canada in the months prior to his arrest. Zazi has family in Mississauga.
Law enforcement officials told The Associated Press that the jailed Zazi recently volunteered information about the bomb plot during a meeting with his attorney and federal prosecutors in Brooklyn.
One of the people familiar with the Zazi case said Zazi decided to offer the information after being warned that his mother could face criminal immigration charges.
One of the people familiar with the investigation said Zazi told prosecutors he made roughly two pounds of a powerful and highly unstable explosive called triacetone triperoxide, or TATP.
The same explosive was used by would-be shoe bomber Richard Reid in 2001 and the terrorists who carried out the London bombings in 2005 that killed 52 people.
Others charged in the terror case include Zazi's father, Mohammed Wali Zazi, who was accused this month of trying to get rid of chemicals and other evidence.