Inside the Zazi Courtroom

In this photo released by the New York City Police Department, Najibullah Zazi, center, is escorted off an NYPD helicopter by U.S Marshals after being extradited from Denver, Colo., Friday, Sept. 25, 2009. Zazi was sent to New York to face charges of conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction in a plot law enforcement has said was focused on blowing up commuter trains. (AP Photo/New York City Police Department)
CBS News investigative producer Pat Milton was in the courtroom today as Najibullah Zazi pleaded guilty to plotting to bomb the New York City subways.

Milton reports that Zazi "appeared respectful and confident" as he stood before a federal judge in Brooklyn, and pleaded guilty to conspiring to kill Americans.

His plan, he said, was to bomb the New York City subway system during the anniversary of 9/11 last year.

Zazi spoke in a hushed courtroom. He told the court in very clear tones that he went to Pakistan with the intention of joining the Taliban. He wanted to fight against the U.S. Troops in Afghanistan. He was said when he got there however, he was recruited by al Qaeda. He went to their training camps, and learned the use of weapons.

Read the Court Transcript 2/22/2010

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While he was also there, there was a decision to be made that he was going to conduct a martyrdom operation. His operation that he decided to do was the NYC subway systems - to attack them. He made that decision with al Qaeda operatives.

Milton said Zazi was wearing black and prison garb with bright orange sneakers. He stood tall next to his attorney with his hands folded in front of him as he spoke to the judge.

The judge asked him, by a martyrdom operation, do you mean a "suicide bomb?"

Zazi said that he would sacrifice himself, to save the lives of others.

He wanted, he said, to bring attention to war in afghanistan.

The sacrifice now may likely be a life behind bars. He's due to be sentenced June 25.

  • Pat Milton

    Pat Milton is a CBS News investigative producer