Pakistani-American Admits to Times Square Bomb Attempt

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Journalist

A naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan who admitted to an attempt to driving a car bomb into Times Square on Saturday evening was arrested late yesterday as he sat in a plane on the runway of JFK Airport that was bound for Dubai.

Reuters is reporting that Faisal Shahzad, 30, is due to appear in court later today to face charges of “driving a car bomb into Times Square on the evening of May 1.” The car, a 1993 Nissan SUV, was loaded with gasoline and fireworks and could have killed dozens had it successfully exploded. 

“He’s admitted to buying the truck, putting the devices together, putting them in the truck, leaving the truck there and leaving the scene,” a law enforcement source told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity. “He’s claimed to have acted alone. He did admit to all the charges, so to speak,” the source said.

Investigators are still looking into a possible link between a trip Shahzad recently took to Pakistan and the Taliban, which has already claimed responsibility for the failed attack. Shahzad, who received U.S. citizenship just last year, spent about five months in Pakistan, returning to the U.S. in February.

“Based on our collective experience it’s hard to really believe that this is something someone would do on their own. It seems hard to pull off alone. There’s a lot we don’t know yet,” the source said.

Emirates, the airline whose flight Shahzad had boarded in New York before being detained, said in a statement that three passengers were removed from the plane. CNN reported that the two other passengers were cleared and released.

“Full security procedures were activated including the deplaning of all passengers and a thorough screening of the aircraft, passengers and baggage,” an Emirates spokesperson said in a statement.

U. S. Attorney General Eric Holder called the attempt a “terrorist act” that was meant to kill Americans.  White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said President Barack Obama was notified of the arrest just after midnight by his counterterrorism chief, John Brennan.

Saturday’s failed bombing was the second significant plot in nine months targeting New York City, Reuters reports. An Afghan immigrant, Najibullah Zazi, pleaded guilty to plotting a suicide bombing campaign on Manhattan’s subway system last September, a plot disrupted by law enforcement before it could be implemented. Zazi admitted to receiving al Qaeda training in Pakistan.

Garry Hindle, head of security and counterterrorism at Britain’s Royal United Services Institute think tank, told Reuters: “We’ve been saying for a long time that this type of incompetent attack is the trend. If it follows the pattern of previous incidents, we can expect to uncover an amount of prior overseas travel, instruction from trainers and a search for inspiration from radicalizers abroad.”

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