Officials formally charge Times Square bomb suspect
(AP) - Seized from a plane about to fly to the MiddleEast, a Pakistan-born man admitted training to make bombs at aterrorism camp in his native land before he rigged a sport utilityvehicle with a homemade device to explode in Times Square,authorities said Tuesday.
Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen who recently spentfive months in Pakistan, was arrested on terrorism and weapons ofmass destruction charges for trying to blow up the crudegasoline-and-propane bomb amid tourists and theatergoers Saturdayevening.
He was in custody after being hauled off a Dubai-bound plane atKennedy Airport that he had been able to board Monday night despitebeing placed on the federal "no-fly" list. Authorities hadplanned to arrest Shahzad, who had been under constant watch frommid-afternoon, at his Connecticut home, but lost track of him, twopeople familiar with the probe told The Associated Press. Thepeople spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren'tauthorized to talk publicly about the breach in surveillance.
Authorities shed little light on what might have motivatedShahzad - who since moving from Pakistan to Connecticut hadacquired a master's degree in business administration and a housein the suburbs that subsequently was lost to foreclosure. Hereportedly came from a background of privilege and wealth - the sonof a retired air vice marshal.
A real estate broker who worked with Shahzad in 2004 said thebombing suspect had expressed a dislike for former President GeorgeW. Bush and his policy in Iraq.
Attorney General Eric Holder said Shahzad has been providingvaluable information to investigators as they sought to determinethe scope of the plot. A court hearing for him was canceled Tuesdayin part because of his continuing cooperation.
"Based on what we know so far, it is clear that this was aterrorist plot aimed at murdering Americans in one of the busiestplaces in our country," Holder said.
Holder and other U.S. officials did not elaborate on whetherthey believed any international terrorist group was involved, orwhether Shahzad, after his training, was acting on his own.
The FBI read Shahzad his constitutional rights after he providedinformation, and he continued to cooperate, FBI Deputy DirectorJohn Pistole said.
Shahzad, 30, had been identified as the man who recentlypurchased the sport utility vehicle in cash and was added to theno-fly list early Monday afternoon as a result of breakingdevelopments in the investigation, according to a law enforcementofficial, speaking on condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoinginvestigation.
Counterterrorism officials send electronic notifications toairlines when watch lists are updated, but it is up to the airlinesto check the web forum where the notifications are sent. IfEmirates airlines had done this, the airline would have been ableto flag Shahzad when he purchased his ticket that night. Becausethey didn't, law enforcement officials were not aware of his travelplans until they received the flight manifest 30 minutes beforetakeoff, the official said.
Customs and Border Protection officials, who were on the lookoutfor Shahzad since the early afternoon, recognized his name on themanifest and ordered the flight stopped so they could arrest him.The flight had not left the gate at that point, the official said.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano credited Customsofficials with recognizing Shahzad's name on the manifest andstopping the flight. But she had little explanation for how he wasable to board the plane with a last-minute ticket.
According to the criminal complaint filed in federal court inManhattan, Shahzad confessed to buying the SUV, rigging it with ahomemade bomb and driving it into Times Square. The complaint sayshe admitted to receiving bomb-making training in Waziristan,Pakistan, a region where the Pakistani Taliban operates withnear-impunity.
The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the bombplot, but U.S. officials say there's no evidence to back that up. The complaint charged Shahzad with trying to detonate a weaponof mass destruction, attempted car bombing and obstructinginterstate and foreign commerce by trying to kill and maim U.S.citizens.
The report of Shahzad's training raises the possibility theattack was a coordinated international effort, but authorities havenot said whether they believe that to be the case.
In Pakistan, authorities said they had detained several peoplein connection with the bombing attempt, although the FBI said ithad no confirmation that these arrests were relevant to the case.Reports also surfaced in Pakistan that Shahzad came from a wealthyfamily and was the son of a former high-ranking air force officer.
President Barack Obama said "hundreds of lives" may have beensaved Saturday night by the quick action of ordinary citizens andlaw enforcement authorities who saw the smoking SUV - a 1993 NissanPathfinder - parked in Times Square.
"As Americans and as a nation, we will not be terrorized. Wewill not cower in fear. We will not be intimidated," Obama said.
Married with two children, Shahzad had obtained U.S. citizenshipafter emigrating from Pakistan.
In Bridgeport, Connecticut, authorities removed filled plasticbags and a bomb squad came and went from a house in a working-classneighborhood of multifamily homes. FBI agents found a box ofconsumer-grade firecrackers and other fireworks in the drivewaythat they were marking off as evidence.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the arrest should not be as used asan excuse for anti-Muslim actions. "We will not tolerate any biasor backlash against Pakistani or Muslim New Yorkers," he said.
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