Times Square bomb suspect probed for links abroad

NEW YORK Wed May 5, 2010 4:15pm EDT

1 of 26. This undated image, obtained from orkut.com on May 4, 2010, shows Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American who is suspected as the driver of a bomb-laden SUV into New York's Time Square on May 1.

Credit: Reuters/Courtesy of Orkut.com/Handout

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - The suspected Times Square bomber is cooperating with investigators who are seeking details about his contacts in Pakistan, postponing indefinitely any court appearance, law enforcement sources said on Wednesday.

Faisal Shahzad, 30, who was born in Pakistan and became a U.S. citizen last year, is accused of trying to kill and maim people with a car bomb in the heart of Manhattan Saturday night. Authorities defused the bomb.

Formally charged with five terrorism-related counts, he faces life in prison if convicted unless he negotiates a lesser sentence in exchange for cooperation.

He was not yet assigned a defense lawyer and no court appearance has been scheduled, a law enforcement source said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because there is a pending investigation.

Another source said he was cooperating with investigators, indicating he might waive his right to appear before a judge within 48 hours of his Monday night arrest.

"He was giving them intricate details as to what he did overseas," said the U.S. law enforcement source familiar with the investigation. "There was a determination that there wasn't anyone else in the (New York) area to target."

Prosecutors say Shahzad, the son of a retired Pakistani vice air marshal, drove a crude homemade bomb of gasoline, propane gas, fireworks and fertilizer into Times Square and fled.

Authorities defused the bomb and later captured Shahzad, plucking him from an Emirates airline flight to Dubai on his way back to Pakistan, where prosecutors say he had received bomb-making training. The law enforcement source said investigators believe the Pakistani Taliban financed that training.

Shahzad had bought a ticket and boarded the plane Monday evening despite having been put on a U.S. government "no-fly" list earlier in the day. Wednesday, the Obama administration ordered airlines to step up their efforts to prevent people on the list from boarding flights.

Several of Shahzad's relatives were arrested in Pakistan after he was removed from the plane, Pakistani officials said.

Shahzad, a former budget analyst who worked for a marketing firm in the U.S. state of Connecticut, came from a relatively privileged background that offered no hints of radicalism.

Residents of his home village of Mohib Banda were in disbelief. "I never observed any inclination for militancy," a close family friend told Reuters.

The issue of whether to extend terrorism suspects the same rights as common criminal defendants has been at the heart of a political debate in the United States. Conservative opponents of President Barack Obama argue they should be treated as enemy combatants, denying them rights in order to gather intelligence.

But federal investigators have claimed success in gathering information from suspects -- even after reading them their rights -- in recent cases such a Nigerian charged with attempting to blow up a Detroit-bound plane with a device hidden in his underwear, and an attempted New York City subway bomber.

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said late Tuesday that Shahzad admitted trying to set off the bomb and training in a Taliban and al Qaeda stronghold in Pakistan.

"He's giving us significant information," Kelly told NY 1 television. "We want to learn as much as we can about him, we want to learn about the training, who gave the training, where did it happen."

ANOTHER THWARTED ATTACK

Kelly said it was the 11th thwarted attack on New York City since hijacked airliners destroyed the World Trade Center's twin towers on September 11, 2001, killing more than 2,700 people in the city.

Obama said the investigation would seek to determine whether Shahzad had any connection with foreign extremist groups.

The Taliban in Pakistan Sunday claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing, saying it was planned to avenge the killing in April of al Qaeda's two top leaders in Iraq as well as U.S. involvement in Muslim countries.

While some U.S. officials were skeptical about the claim, Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told CBS News he believed the failed attack was a retaliation for the United States targeting Taliban followers.

"This is a blow back. This is a reaction. This is retaliation," he said. "Let's not be naive. They're not going to sort of sit and welcome you to eliminate them. They're going to fight back. And we have to be ready for this fight."

(Additional reporting by Edith Honan and Michelle Nichols in New York; Jeremy Pelofsky in Washington; and Zeeshan Haider in Mohib Banda, Pakistan; Editing by Frances Kerry and Vicki Allen)

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Comments (6)
VitaminD3Man wrote:
Let the Pakistani security services “extricate” the truth from him. When they finish, give him back to us, or give back what is left of him, so he can see why his parents left that h***hole called Pakistan.

May 05, 2010 10:20am EDT  --  Report as abuse
PHenry13 wrote:
Typical H-1B moron. Didn’t know the fertilizer was the wrong kind. These are the kinds of people Schumer and the rest of the cheap labor cheerleaders are holding up as examples of “geniuses” we want in our country. Call your representative in Washington and demand that they end the H-1B visa program. The slave labor obtained through this visa is not worth another terror attempt.

May 05, 2010 10:54am EDT  --  Report as abuse
GL5891 wrote:
Below are direct quotes from the article above.
“He is not from a radical or illiterate family. He is from an educated family.”
“Shahzad, a former financial analyst who worked in the U.S. state of Connecticut, is the son of a retired vice air marshal.”
“JPMorgan Chase’s mortgage unit sued Shahzad in September last year to foreclose on his three bedroom home in Shelton, Connecticut, court documents and county records show.”
“Street vendors alerted police to the smoking vehicle that had been parked with the engine running and the hazard lights on. ”
“Shahzad was taken off an Emirates plane that was about to depart for Dubai late on Monday.”
“An Emirates spokesman said on Wednesday that Shahzad’s final destination was Islamabad.”

My question: how the educated guy, son of vice air marshal can be so stupid not to finish off his assignment?
My version – he didn’t want to blow the car, he wanted it to be smoking and giving signals to be looked at. Why?
As a financial analyst, he might have been involved in some financial operations that turned in this boiled economy to be a disaster. He lost somebody’s (and his own) money. Now, being smart guy he decided to take care of business: went to Pakistan, found guys who would pay him upfront (maybe half) for the terrorist act and then came back to US.
Here he realized (again – he is a SMART guy) what a terrible act he is about to commit, and decided to fool everybody: he set up a car with explosives and turned public attention to it. If he’d left country without being caught he would have told his “employers” that everything was going very smooth and something just didn’t work, and he hoped to persuade them so they would pay him the rest…
The guy is definitely going to be punished, but would be very interesting to be absolutely sure what was behind his actions….

May 05, 2010 11:39am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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