Times Square car bomb suspect faces terrorism charges after admitting to plot
The man who attempted to detonate a fertilizer-filled Nissan Pathfinder in the middle of Times Square Saturday night has opened up to investigators after an intense manhunt in which the Pakistani-born U.S. citizen nearly got away.
Attorney General Eric Holder said Faisal Shahzad has admitted trying to set off the car bomb and is now being charged with an act of terrorism and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, according to Fox News.
While Shahzad told investigators that he acted alone, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the would-be bomber confessed that he received training in Pakistan during a recent five-month-long stay and “between four and eight people have been taken into custody for questioning in Pakistan” in connection to the bombing, according to another Fox News report.
At the press conference, Holder said Shahzad had “provided ‘valuable information’ to investigators, attempted to carry out a ‘lethal terrorist attack’ aimed at ‘murdering Americans in one of the busiest places in our country.'”
Although the no-fly list Shahzad was added to May 3rd failed to keep him off a Middle East-bound flight, he was apprehended just as his plane was taxiing on the JFK’s runway.
Army intelligence planes circling above New York made the save, “intercepting a call to Emirates Airlines reservations, before scrambling to catch him at John F. Kennedy International Airport,” according to CBS News:
Spooked by reports that authorities were looking for a Pakistani-American, Shahzad rushed out of his Bridgeport, Conn. Home and headed for the airport. He made the reservations on the way, paying cash for his ticket.
Agents raiding his Bridgeport home found components for the bomb device, including firecrackers and the boxes for the alarm clocks. They also reportedly found a hand-drawn map of potential targets, including the 4, 5, and 6 trains and the Staten Island ferry. There was also evidence of his ties to Pakistan, including a Karachi ID and residency papers.
Pakistan officials have reportedly made arrests in connection with the case. One of the suspects, Tausif Ahmed, is believed to have traveled to American two months ago to meet with Shahzad.
Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen, has been in the country as early as 2000:
He Graduated with a bachelor’s degree in computer applications and information systems in 2000 and later returned to earn a master’s of business administration in 2005.
University spokeswoman Leslie Geary says Shahzad was a transfer student from Southeastern University in Washington, D.C., which lost its accreditation last year.
She says the University of Bridgeport has notified federal homeland security officials and the FBI about Shahzad’s attendance at the college.
Citing an anonymous U.S. government official, a recent Associated Press report states the suspect “made his flight reservation on the way to the airport and paid for his ticket in cash.”
Police originally suspected an unidentified white male from a surveillance video for the car that contained three propane tanks, consumer-grade fireworks, two filled 5-gallon gasoline containers, and two clocks with batteries, electrical wire and other components.
Although the vehicle identification number (VIN) had been removed from the Pathfinder’s dashboard, investigators used the VIN stamped on the engine to find the owner of record who described the buyer as an approximately thirty- year old man of either of Hispanic or Middle Eastern origin.
With that information May 2, law enforcement officials were able to identify the buyer and suspect as Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad.