Pakistani-born U.S. citizen arrested in Times Square bomb case

Police search home in bombing case (AP)

A Pakistan-born U.S. citizen accused of driving a bomb-laden SUV into Times Square and parking it on a street lined with restaurants and Broadway theaters was to appear in court Tuesday to face charges that he tried to set off a massive fireball and kill Americans, federal authorities said.

The suspect, Faisal Shahzad, was taken into custody late Monday by FBI agents and New York Police Department detectives at Kennedy Airport while trying to board a flight to Dubai, according to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder and other officials. He was identified by customs agents and stopped before boarding, Holder said early Tuesday in Washington.

Shahzad is a naturalized U.S. citizen and had recently returned from a five-month trip to Pakistan, where he had a wife, according to law enforcement officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation into the failed car bombing.

The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan was handling the case and said Shahzad would appear in court Tuesday, but the charges were not made public. FBI agents searched the home at a known address for Shahzad in Bridgeport, Conn., early Tuesday, said agent Kimberly Mertz, who wouldn’t answer questions about the search.

Authorities removed filled plastic bags from the house overnight in a mixed-race, working-class neighborhood of multi-family homes in Connecticut’s largest city. A bomb squad came and went without entering as local police and FBI agents gathered in the cordoned-off street.

Shahzad was being held in New York overnight and couldn’t be contacted. A phone number at a listed address for Shahzad in Shelton, Conn., wasn’t in service.

Law enforcement officials say Shahzad bought the SUV, a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder, from a Connecticut man about three weeks ago and paid cash. The officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the case.

The vehicle identification number had been removed from the Pathfinder’s dashboard, but it was stamped on the engine, and investigators used it to find the owner of record, who told them he had sold the vehicle to a stranger.

As the SUV buyer came into focus, investigators backed off other leads, although Holder said U.S. authorities “will not rest until we have brought everyone responsible to justice,” suggesting additional suspects are being sought.

The SUV was parked on Saturday night on a busy midtown Manhattan street near a theater showing “The Lion King.” The explosive device inside it had cheap-looking alarm clocks connected to a 16-ounce can filled with fireworks, which were apparently intended to detonate gas cans and set propane tanks afire in a chain reaction “to cause mayhem, to create casualties,” police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.

A metal rifle cabinet placed in the SUV’s cargo area was packed with fertilizer, but NYPD bomb experts believe it was not a type volatile enough to explode like the ammonium nitrate grade fertilizer used in previous terrorist bombings.

Police said the SUV bomb could have produced “a significant fireball” and sprayed shrapnel with enough force to kill pedestrians and knock out windows.

A vendor alerted a police officer to the parked SUV, which was smoking. Times Square, clogged with tourists on a warm evening, was shut down for 10 hours. A bomb squad dismantled the explosive device, and no one was hurt.

But Holder said Americans should remain vigilant.

“It’s clear,” he said, “that the intent behind this terrorist act was to kill Americans.”

In Pakistan, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said authorities had not been formally asked for help in the probe.

“When the request comes, we will cooperate with the U.S. government,” he told the AP.

The Pakistani Taliban appeared to claim responsibility in videos that surfaced after the weekend scare, monitoring groups said, but police had no evidence to support the claims.

More than a dozen people with American citizenship or residency, like Shahzad, have been accused in the past two years of supporting or carrying out terrorism attempts on U.S. soil, cases that illustrate the threat of violent extremism from within the U.S.

Among them are Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, a U.S.-born Army psychiatrist of Palestinian descent, charged with fatally shooting 13 people last year at Fort Hood, Texas; Najibullah Zazi, a Denver-area airport shuttle driver who pleaded guilty in February in a plot to bomb New York subways; and a Pennsylvania woman who authorities say became radicalized online as “Jihad Jane” and plotted to kill a Swedish artist whose work offended Muslims.

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AP Video journalist Ted Shaffrey in Bridgeport and Associated Press writer Chris Brummitt in Islamabad contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2010 The Associated Press

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4 Responses to "Pakistani-born U.S. citizen arrested in Times Square bomb case"

  1. woody188  May 4, 2010 at 10:26 am

    Another US citizen disappears without due process?

    Guess we’ll see…

  2. Keith  May 4, 2010 at 6:08 pm

    This nonsense is yet MORE scare tactics from the leaders of our Military Industrial Complex who think its now time to generate a little more “terror” so as to keep the money flowing for their precious “homeland security” programs.

    Indeed, just like the nut case who tried to ignite his underwear on that jet plane over Christmas, news of this clown’s attempts to make a big noise with two cans of gasoline and three propane tanks are all over the Internet and the networks. And it would all be comic if it wasn’t so pitifully sad. Indeed, if Bin Laden IS still alive somewhere, he must be laughing his head off.

    What seems to have gotten lost in all the latest, largely manufactured “terrorist” panic is the fact that more US citizens die in our country each year from simply falling out of bed than in “terror attacks”.

    And, as this person was a legal US Citizen, the only way such people are going to be intercepted before they do such deeds is when EVERYONE residing in our country is put on some stupid “terrorist watch list” somewhere. Unfortunately, there simply aren’t now (nor will there ever be) enough homeland security goon squads to protect ALL the people ALL the time from such attempts. That is, of course, unless we want to turn our ounce proud and free country into yet MORE of a police state than it already is.

    And, despite our government bureaucrat’s continuing arrogant assertions to the contrary, these so-called “terrorist” attacks aren’t the problem. They are a SYMPTOM of the problem…. a problem that has been caused largely by our own government’s imperialistic foreign policies.

    Indeed, if our country would simply STOP poking our noses into every other country’s business in our continuing (usually futile) attempts to control what those other countries do (including continually propping up the Government of Israel) my hunch is that most of this “terrorist” nonsense directed at our country would shrivel up and go away.

    When are we EVER going to learn that these people don’t hate us for what we ARE, they hate us for what we DO?

    But, then again, there will ALWAYS be “wing nuts” like this clown who want to make a big name for themselves. For, no matter how hard you try, there simply aren’t enough resources in the world to make the entire United States if America completely “secure” from the handiwork of idiots…including those we elect and appoint to high positions in our own government.

  3. Pingback: The Question Of The Times Square Bomber’s Citizenship « Kicking Over My Traces

  4. Carl Nemo  May 4, 2010 at 8:59 pm

    Solid analysis concerning a sorry situation Keith. : )

    From the description of the bomb components and how they were jury rigged together it seems they were rank amateurs and lucky so for the people in the vicinity. As you’ve mentioned there’s no shortage of “wing nuts” or terrorist sympathizers that wish to make a name for themselves. Let’s hope they continue to be unsuccessful in their efforts to create havoc.

    Carl Nemo **==

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