May 4, 2010 1:27 PM by Letitia Walker
NEW YORK (AP) - A Pakistani-born U.S. citizen was hauled off a
plane about to fly to the Middle East and arrested in the failed
attempt to explode a bomb-laden SUV in Times Square, authorities
said Tuesday. One official said he claimed to have acted alone.
Faisal Shahzad was on board a Dubai-bound flight that was
taxiing away from the gate at Kennedy Airport when the plane was
stopped and FBI agents and New York Police Department detectives
took him into custody late Monday, law enforcement officials said.
U.S. authorities "will not rest until we have brought everyone
responsible to justice," Attorney Eric Holder said early Tuesday,
suggesting additional suspects are being sought.
In Pakistan, intelligence officials said at least one man has
been detained in the southern city of Karachi in connection with
the Times Square case: a man named Tauseef who was a friend of
Shahzad. He did not say when the man was picked up.
Another Pakistani official said several people had been taken
into custody since the failed attack. Both officials spoke on
condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of their
President Barack Obama said "hundreds of lives" may have been
saved Saturday night by the quick action of ordinary citizens and
law enforcement authorities who saw the smoking SUV parked in Times
"As Americans and as a nation, we will not be terrorized. We
will not cower in fear. We will not be intimidated," Obama said.
Shahzad, 30, 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.
Shahzad became a naturalized U.S. citizen last year shortly
before traveling to Pakistan, a federal law enforcement official in
Washington said, speaking on condition of anonymity amid the
Investigators hadn't established an immediate connection to the
Pakistani Taliban - which had claimed responsibility for the
botched bombing in three videos - or any foreign terrorist groups,
a law enforcement official told the AP.
"He's claimed to have acted alone, but these are things that
have to be investigated," the official said.
Shahzad has been answering questions for investigators, the
official said, declining to say what information was provided. It's
unclear if those conversations will continue.
A Pakistani TV station reported that Shahzad spent time in
Karachi and visited the northwestern city of Peshawar during his
stay in Pakistan. Peshawar is a gateway for foreigners seeking to
travel into nearby tribal regions, where militant groups have long
In Washington, Pakistani Embassy spokesman Nadeem Haider Kiani
said it's too soon to tell what motivated the bomber. Asked whether
there were ties to foreign terrorist groups, Kiani said early
indications suggest the bomber was "a disturbed individual."
Another law enforcement official said Shahzad was not known to
the U.S. intelligence community before the failed bombing attempt,
in which authorities found a crude bomb of gasoline, propane and
fireworks in a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder parked on a bustling street
in Times Square.
The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan was handling the case
and said Shahzad would appear in court later 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
Authorities removed filled plastic bags from the house in a
mixed-race, working-class neighborhood of multifamily 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. FBI agents appeared to have found fireworks in
the driveway that they were marking off as evidence.
Shahzad was being held in New York and couldn't be contacted. A
phone number at a listed address for Shahzad in Shelton, Conn.,
wasn't in service.
He used to live in a two-story grayish-brown colonial with a
sloping yard in a working-class neighborhood in Shelton. The home
looked as if it had been unoccupied for a while, with grass growing
in the driveway and bags of garbage lying about.
A neighbor in Bridgeport described him as quiet.
"Nobody ever had a problem with him," said Dawn Sampson, 34,
who lives across the street from Shahzad's third-floor apartment.
She said he had remodeled it and had put on the market to rent for
$1,200, a fee she thought was much too high.
Law enforcement officials say Shahzad paid $1,300 cash three
weeks ago for the Pathfinder, going first for a test-drive in a
mall and offering less than the $1,800 advertised price. Peggy
Colas, 19, of Bridgeport, sold the car to Shahzad after he answered
an Internet ad, law enforcement officials said. 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 a
stranger bought it. As the SUV buyer came into focus, investigators
backed off other leads.
The SUV was parked near a theater where the musical "The Lion
King" was being performed. The bomb 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 off
propane tanks in a chain reaction "to cause mayhem, to create
casualties," police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
A metal rifle cabinet 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 bomb and no one
Holder urged Americans should remain vigilant.
"It's clear that the intent behind this terrorist act was to
kill Americans," he said.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg said the arrest should not be as used as
an excuse for anti-Muslim actions. "We will not tolerate any bias
or backlash against Pakistani or Muslim New Yorkers," he said.
Authorities did not address Shahzad's plans in Dubai. The
airport there is the Middle East's busiest and is a major transit
point for passengers traveling between the West and much of Asia,
particularly India and Pakistan.
Dubai-based Emirates airline said three passengers were pulled
from Flight EK202, which was delayed for about seven hours. The
airline did not identify Shahzad by name or name the other two
The aircraft and passengers were then screened again before
taking off Tuesday morning, and the airline is "cooperating with
the local authorities," Emirates said in a statement e-mailed to
the AP. The other two passengers who had been removed were allowed
to get back aboard the flight, the airline said.
Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the AP that
authorities had not been formally asked for help in the
investigation but would cooperate if asked.
More than a dozen people with U.S. citizenship or residency,
like Shahzad, have been accused in the past two years of
supporting, attempting or carrying out attacks on U.S. soil,
illustrating 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.