Suspect Pleads Guilty in Failed NY Car Bomb Attempt
Calling himself a "Muslim soldier," a Pakistan-born U.S. citizen pleaded guilty Monday to the failed Times Square car bombing, saying his attack was the answer to "the U.S. terrorizing . . . Muslim people." [AP]
June 22, 2010
NEW YORK – Calling himself a “Muslim soldier,” a Pakistan-born U.S. citizen pleaded guilty Monday to the failed Times Square car bombing, saying his attack was the answer to “the U.S. terrorizing . . . Muslim people.”
Faisal Shahzad entered the plea in U.S. District Court in Manhattan days after a federal grand jury had indicted him on 10 terrorism and weapons counts, some of which carry mandatory life terms.
He pleaded guilty to them all.
Widely circulated snapshots of Shahzad – a U.S.-trained financial analyst and married father of two – show him with a neatly trimmed beard, all smiles and looking carefree behind sunglasses or with his Pakistani American wife.
When led into court Monday, he had on a white skullcap and prisoner’s garb, his beard shaggy and his demeanor serious.
“One has to understand where I’m coming from,” Shahzad told U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, who challenged him with questions such as whether he had qualms about killing children in Times Square.
“It’s a war,” he said.
He described his effort to set off a bomb in an SUV he parked in Times Square on May 1, saying he chose the warm Saturday night expecting that would bring out a big crowd.
Officers and a police dog on Monday patrol Times Square, the site of the May 1 bomb attempt. Faisal Shahzad pleaded guilty Monday, calling himself "a Muslim soldier." [AP]
He revealed that he actually had packed his vehicle with three bombs, hoping to set off a fertilizer-fueled bomb packed in a gun cabinet, a set of propane tanks, and gas canisters rigged with fireworks to explode into a fireball.
He said he had expected the bombs to begin going off after he lit a fuse and waited between 21/2 and 5 minutes for them to erupt.
“I was waiting to hear a sound, but I didn’t hear a sound,” he said. “So I walked to Grand Central and went home.” He insisted he built the bombs “all by myself.”
Shahzad dismissed the judge’s question about potentially harming children by saying the United States did not care when children were killed in Muslim countries.
“It’s a war. I am part of the answer to the U.S. terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people. On behalf of that, I’m revenging the attack. Living in the United States, Americans only care about their people, but they don’t care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die.”
Cedarbaum asked Shahzad if he understood that the people in Times Square might not have anything to do with what happened overseas.
“The people select the government,” Shahzad said. “We consider them all the same.”
He entered the plea and an accompanying statement as Cedarbaum began asking him questions to ensure he understood his rights.
She asked Shahzad, 30, if he understood that he might spend the rest of his life in prison. He said he did.
She asked if he was sure he wanted to plead guilty.
He said he wanted “to plead guilty and 100 times more” to let the United States know that if it did not get out of Iraq and Afghanistan, halt drone attacks, and stop meddling in Muslim lands, “we will be attacking the U.S.”
Sentencing was set for Oct. 5.
The Bridgeport, Conn., resident was arrested as he tried to leave the country May 3.
Authorities said Shahzad immediately cooperated, delaying his initial court appearance for two weeks as he spilled details of his plot.
The bomb sputtered, emitting smoke that attracted the attention of an alert street vendor, who notified police, setting in motion a rapid evacuation of several blocks.
According to the indictment, Shahzad received $12,000 from the Pakistani Taliban through cash drop-offs in Massachusetts and Long Island. In court Monday, he said the group also gave him more than $4,000 when he left the training camp.
Shahzad was accused in the indictment of receiving explosives training in Waziristan, Pakistan, during a five-week trip there. He returned to the United States in February.
The indictment said he received $5,000 in cash on Feb. 25 from a coconspirator in Pakistan and $7,000 more on April 10, allegedly sent at the coconspirator’s direction.
Shahzad was born in Pakistan and moved to the United States when he was 18.
Pakistan has arrested 11 people since the Times Square attack, but no one there has been charged.
Three men in Massachusetts and Maine suspected of supplying money to Shahzad are being held on immigration charges.
Federal authorities have said they believe money was channeled through an underground money-transfer network known as hawala.