Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Charges were brought against the Times Square bombing suspect car
"It is clear that this was a terrorist plot," Holder said, adding that this could have caused "death and destruction in the heart of New York." A mid-size SUV rigged as a car bomb left in Manhattan, Times Square, on Saturday.
A complaint filed in court details five counts against Shahzad: attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to kill and maim people in the United States, using and carrying a destructive device, transporting an explosive device, and attempting to damage building, vehicles and other property.
Read complaint filed in federal court Tuesday
Shahzad was arrested around 11:45 p.m. ET Monday at the airport moments before he was to fly to Pakistan via Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Shahzad had boarded Emirates Airlines Flight 202 to Dubai, but authorities arrested him before the plane moved from the gate, an Obama administration official said. Shahzad was booked through to Islamabad, Pakistan, via Dubai, a senior airline official confirmed.
The FBI said its agents and New York detectives arrested Shahzad "for allegedly driving a car bomb into Times Square."
FBI Deputy Director John Pistole said that Shahzad was on the federal "no fly" list, which helped Customs and Border Protection agents to arrest him.
In addition, Emirates Airlines said the suspect bought his ticket with cash at the airport counter, and the staff, considering that unusual, immediately informed airport security officials.
Holder said federal agents are continuing to question Shahzad.
"As a result of those communications, Shahzad has provided useful information to authorities. We anticipate charging him with an act of terrorism transcending national borders, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, use of a destructive device during the commission of another crime, as well as assorted explosives charges."
Latest updates in Times Square bomb scare
Hours after authorities arrested Shahzad, security forces in Pakistan seized two or three people in a raid in connection with the failed Times Square bombing, a Pakistani intelligence source said.
The Pakistan raid took place in a house in Karachi's Nazimabad district where Shahzad was believed to have stayed during his last visit to the country. Shahzad is a naturalized U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent.
Watch reaction from Pakistan on Shahzad's arrest Video
Shahzad has a Karachi identification card, a sign of Pakistani residency, and his family is from volatile northwestern Pakistan, where government forces have been fighting Taliban militants, who have strongholds in the area, according to Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik.
Timeline in bomb plot
Meanwhile, investigators Tuesday found a 9 mm handgun with ammunition in a white Isuzu that the suspect is believed to have driven to the airport, a federal law enforcement source said.
The source also said 15 bags of "standard green fertilizer" were found in the trash outside Shahzad's former house in Shelton, Connecticut. Also found in the trash was flash powder -- a mixture of aluminum or magnesium that ignites easily and burns rapidly.
Hours after the arrest, police were at a house in a Bridgeport, Connecticut, working-class neighborhood that was Shahzad's latest address. Agents with the FBI and local police, including members of a bomb squad, conducted a search, and investigators removed filled plastic bags.
Investigators also were combing through Shahzad's receipts, and roommates were being interviewed.
Detectives also found a hand-drawn map in the attempted bombing probe, but it's not clear where it was found, a federal law enforcement official said.
President Obama said Tuesday that "justice will be done" in the case and that U.S. officials "will do everything in our power to protect the American people."
The failed bombing is "another sobering reminder of the times in which we live," Obama told an audience of business leaders. But the United States "will be vigilant" and "will not cower in fear," he said.
Police have been engaged in a furious manhunt in the New York area for those responsible for an intended terrorist attack Saturday night in the heart of Manhattan's Times Square.
According to a source familiar with the investigation, the individuals didn't have the expertise to detonate a parked Nissan Pathfinder containing propane tanks, fertilizer and gasoline.
Authorities focused on Shahzad when they traced evidence to him from the sale of the Nissan Pathfinder used in the failed attack -- information considered the linchpin of the case.
The Nissan Pathfinder had its vehicle identification number removed from the dashboard. Police climbed under the SUV and retrieved the VIN from the bottom of its engine block.
This breakthrough led investigators to the vehicle's registered owner and then on to Shahzad, who purchased the SUV, an official said.
The Nissan Pathfinder was sold three weeks ago in a cash deal with no paperwork exchanged, a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation said Monday. The $1,800 deal was closed at a Connecticut shopping mall, where the buyer handed over the money and drove off, the source said.
Cell phone calls conducted for the purchase of the vehicle helped lead police to the suspect, law enforcement sources said.
Sources said investigators got cell phone information from the daughter of the Nissan Pathfinder owner. She sold the vehicle to Shahzad on behalf of her father.
She talked on the phone to Shahzad in organizing the purchase of the SUV, which was advertised for sale on Craigslist.
Another law enforcement source said Shahzad claimed to have acted alone in the attempted bombing, but the Joint Terrorism Task Force has said it's considering the possibility that the attempt involved more than just a "lone wolf."
The official who released the information about the map said he believes Shahzad "wasn't working alone."
According to the complaint filed in federal court, Shahzad returned to the United States via a one-way ticket from Pakistan on February 3. The document cited Customs and Border Protection records.
He had told immigration officials upon his return that he had been visiting his parents in Pakistan for the past five months, according to the complaint.
The document also says Shahzad received a series of phone calls from Pakistan on a prepaid cell phone in the days leading up to the attempted Times Square attack, after he bought the Nissan Pathfinder.
Shahzad became a U.S. citizen on April 17, 2009, a federal law enforcement source said. Because of his recent change in residency status, authorities had his picture and were able to show it to the seller of the vehicle, who identified Shahzad as the purchaser.
A woman who said she lived next door to Shahzad in Shelton said Tuesday that the man she knew was quiet and claimed to work on Wall Street.
"He would wear all black and jog at night. He said he didn't like the sunlight," Brenda Thurman said.
She said that Shahzad, his wife, two children and his wife's two sisters lived next to her for about three years, moving out in July 2009.
Shahzad's wife told Thurman then that the family was moving to Missouri. A few weeks after they left, the bank foreclosed on the property and changed the locks, the neighbor said.
Court documents reveal Shahzad purchased a house that entered foreclosure proceedings last year.
Documents from Connecticut's Milford Superior Court show that Shahzad and Huma Mian purchased a home at 119 Long Hill Ave. in Shelton in July 2004. They took out a mortgage for $218,400 from Chase Manhattan Mortgage Corp.
Last September, the mortgage company began foreclosure proceedings. As of December 14, Shahzad and Mian owed $207,837.
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