NEW YORK (Reuters) - A smirking Pakistani-born U.S. citizen who tried to set off a car bomb in New York’s busy Times Square was sentenced on Tuesday to life in prison after he defiantly said more attacks on America were imminent.
Faisal Shahzad, 31, had pleaded guilty in June to a failed May 1 bombing in Manhattan. He admitted he received bomb-making training from the Pakistani Taliban and that this group, known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, had funded the bomb plot.
Shahzad, who arrived in the Manhattan federal courtroom in shackles, wearing a blue prison tunic and a white prayer cap, smiled and addressed U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum before he was sentenced to life without parole.
“We Muslims don’t abide by human-made laws because they are always corrupt,” he said, denouncing the presence of U.S. and NATO forces in Iraq and Afghanistan and mentioning al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.
“Furthermore, brace yourselves because the war with Muslims has just begun,” he said. “Consider me the first droplet of the flood that will follow.”
“The defeat of (the) U.S. is imminent and will happen in near future,” he said. “We are only Muslims ... but if you call us terrorists, we are proud terrorists and we will keep on terrorizing you.”
The judge noted that Shahzad recently became a U.S. citizen, saying he “falsely swore allegiance to his country.”
“His desire is not to defend the United States and Americans but to kill them,” she said. “The defendant has repeatedly expressed his total lack of remorse, his desire, if given the opportunity, to repeat the crime.”
Shahzad, who lived in the neighboring state of Connecticut, parked a smoking sports utility vehicle in Times Square with its engine running and hazard lights flashing on a balmy springtime Saturday evening.
A bomb squad defused the crude device, which included firecrackers and propane gas tanks, in Times Square, which is 3.5 miles (5.5 kilometer) north of the World Trade Center, destroyed in the September 11 attacks.
Shahzad, whose wife and two children live in Pakistan, told investigators he thought his bomb would kill at least 40 people, and that he had planned a second bombing attack two weeks later. A second target was not identified.
The son of a retired Pakistani vice air marshal, Shahzad was arrested aboard a Dubai-bound jetliner at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport two days after the attempted attack. He had been on his way back to Pakistan.
Shahzad pleaded guilty to 10 charges, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted terrorism transcending national borders.
In Washington, White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said in a statement: “We are pleased that this terrorist has been sentenced to spend the rest of his life in prison, after providing substantial intelligence to our interrogators, and a speedy civilian trial.”
The Obama administration has adopted what it calls a flexible approach to terrorism suspects, favoring military commissions in some cases and civilian trials in others.
It plans to try accused September 11 plotter Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, who is being held in U.S. military prison at Guantanamo Bay, in a civilian court, and the suspected Christmas Day underpants bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab has also been treated as a civilian defendant.
In court, Shahzad blamed the United States and former U.S. President George W. Bush for starting a war on Islam.
“The past nine years the war with Muslims has achieved nothing for the U.S. except for it has waken up the Muslims for Islam,” he said.
“Bush had made already clear when he started the war on us, on Muslims,” he said. “You are either with us or against us.”
Prosecutors had sought a mandatory life term for Shahzad.
“Faisal Shahzad is a remorseless terrorist who betrayed his adopted country and today was rightly sentenced to spend the rest of his life in federal prison,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.
The judge urged Shahzad to reflect on his actions and “whether the Koran wants you to kill lots of people.”
Shahzad said: “The Koran gives us the right to defend, and that’s what I‘m doing.”
He added: “I am happy with the deal God has given me.”
Reporting by Basil Katz; Editing by Michelle Nichols, Philip Barbara and Ellen Wulfhorst