Time Square bomb plotter set to appear in NY court
Faisal Shahzad is set to appear in Manhattan federal court today to face charges over the attempted May 1 car bombing of Times Square., the office of U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in an e- mailed statement. Agents from the Department of Homeland Security arrested Shahzad at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport last night as he was attempting to board a flight to Dubai, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said at a news conference in Washington. The announcement came less than three days after the botched bombing attempt that led police to evacuate parts of Times Square.
Shahzad is a U.S. citizen originally from Pakistan.
“This investigation is ongoing, as are our attempts to gather useful intelligence, and we continue to pursue a number of leads,” Holder said. “But it’s clear that the intent behind this terrorist act was to kill Americans.”
Shahzad had recently returned from a five-month trip to Pakistan, where he had a wife, the Associated Press reported, citing unidentified law enforcement officials. Pakistan’s Dawn television reported today that the suspect had family links in the port city of Karachi, and visited it last year.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, in an interview, said it’s “premature to rule in or out” links to international terrorism. Investigators have no evidence that Pakistani Taliban sympathizers were responsible for the bombing attempt, although a group describing itself as such took credit for it, New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
The number from a disposable cellphone led FBI agents to the suspect arrested Monday night for allegedly driving a car bomb into Times Square on Saturday evening, according to a senior official.
“They were able to basically get one phone number and by running it through a number of databases, figure out who they thought the guy was,” the official said.
A huge law-enforcement force tracked the suspect through the afternoon and evening. He was arrested at 11:30 p.m. at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York City. The vehicle identification number had been removed from the bomb-laden 1993 Nissan Pathfinder left in Times Square.
But investigators were able to lift it from a second location on the vehicle, and used that to track down a Connecticut man who said he had sold the Pathfinder for cash about three weeks ago. The man had offered the vehicle on Craigslist, and FBI agents were able to recover the number from a disposable cellphone that had been used by the buyer.
President Barack Obama was briefed six times on Monday and was notified of the arrest at 12:05 a.m., all by John Brennan, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism, the White House said.