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Times Square Bomb Attempt: Police Arrest Suspect

5 years ago
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FBI agents and detectives with the New York City Police Department arrested and jailed a Pakistani immigrant named Faisal Shahzad Monday night on suspicion of driving an explosives-laden SUV into Times Square on Saturday evening. Shahzad was taken into custody at John F. Kennedy International Airport after being removed from a plane about to take off for Dubai, according to a statement issued by the U.S. Department of Justice.

Attorney General Eric Holder said at a news conference the suspect was cooperating with investigators and admitted involvement in the attempted bombing. (Read a transcript of the news conference).

FBI Deputy Director John S. Pistole said that joint terrorism task force agents and New York City police questioned Shahzad last night and early this morning under the public safety exception to the Miranda rule. Shahzad was later "Mirandized" and continued to talk to investigators, Pistole said.

In Washington, President Obama said the FBI is investigating to determine whether the suspect has any links to terrorist orlganizations. "Justice will be done," the president vowed. He praised New Yorkers for living with "heads held high" and said the incident was "another sober reminder of the times we live in." But Obama said Americans "will not be terrorized. We will not cower in fear, we will not be intimidated."

The New York Times reported Tuesday that Shadzad, 30, has made statements implicating himself, and has told the authorities that he acted alone, according to a law enforcement official. However, the investigation is continuing into whether this might be true. Two other men were interviewed by authorities but were released, according to another law enforcement official, who explained that they might have been taken into custody because they had similar names.

The Times also reported that Shahzad had apparently driven to the airport in a white Isuzu Trooper that was found in a parking lot with a handgun inside, according to an official.

The Washington Posts reports that in Pakistan, authorities arrested at least two people in connection with the Times Square bombing attempt. An official said one of those arrested, Tausif Ahmed, reportedly traveled to the United States in recent months to meet with Shahzad.

"We will not rest until every terrorist, whether homegrown or foreign-based, is neutralized and held to account," the Justice Department said in a statement attributed to U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara, FBI special-agent-in-charge George Venizelos, and New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly.

It wasn't clear Tuesday morning that Shahzad fit the description of being "foreign-based" or "homegrown." He was described in the Justice Department press release as being native of Pakistan who had become a naturalized U.S. citizen and lived in Bridgeport, Conn. According to ABC News, Shahzad had recently returned from a five-month trip to Pakistan, where he spent time in Peshawar, which is a jumping-off point for would-be jihadists seeking to join to the Taliban or al-Qaeda.

Initially, a video surfaced in which a terrorist group known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attempted car bombing in New York City, but on Monday in Peshawar, Pakistani Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq phoned journalists based in Peshawar to disown any knowledge of it.

"We don't know about this video," Azam Tariq said. "As far as I know, none of our people have posted the video. We have no information about it."

What is known is that the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder loaded amateurishly with propane tanks and fertilizer and left smoldering in Times Square on Saturday night left clues that led authorities to Shahzad. The vehicle was quickly traced to a Pathfinder recently sold in Bridgeport, Conn., to a man who answered an ad on Craigslist. The transaction was cash only -- and the seller apparently didn't know the name of the buyer. The Times reported that authorities found Shahzad through the e-mail address he had given the seller.

The suspect and his wife were described by a former neighbor in Shelton, Conn., as a quiet couple who spoke little English and kept mostly to themselves. The neighbor, Brenda Thurman, told Times that the couple had two children.

The White House said President Obama was informed of the arrest shortly after midnight. He was briefed half a dozen times on the investigation Monday by John Brennan, top advisor to the president for homeland security and counterterrorism. He also made personal phone calls to thank two street vendors who spotted the suspicous vechicle and also the two police officiers who first responded and acted to begin evacuating the area.

Shahzad is set to be arraigned sometime Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan.
Filed Under: Times Square Bomb

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