Times Square bombing bid maker says he acted alone (Fourth Lead)May 5th, 2010 - 12:36 am ICT by IANS
Washington, May 4 (IANS) The US citizen of Pakistani origin who was arrested for a failed attempt to bomb Times Square in New York City said Tuesday that he acted alone in the plot, The New York Times reported.
A Connecticut man, who was pulled off a plane bound for Dubai and arrested in a failed bid to set off a car bomb in Times Square, has made statements implicating himself, a law enforcement official said.
The man, Faisal Shahzad, 30, a naturalised US citizen from Pakistan, was taken into custody just before midnight Monday at JFK Airport aboard an Emirates flight that had just pulled away from the gate, officials said.
Shahzad had apparently driven to the airport in a white Isuzu trooper that was found in a parking lot with a loaded handgun inside, the official said.
Shahzad told the authorities that he had acted alone, but hours after he was arrested, security officials in Karachi, Pakistan, said they arrested a Pakistani man who had spent time with Shahzad during a recent visit there.
Investigators said they arrested the man, Muhammad Rehan, in a mosque in the North Nazimabad area just after morning prayers. The mosque is known for its links with the militant group Jaish-e-Muhammad, The Times said.
Rehan told the investigators that he had rented a pickup truck and driven with Shahzad to the northwestern city of Peshawar, where they stayed from July 7 to July 22, 2009. The account could not be independently verified.
The US authorities has learned that Shahzad, who lives in Bridgeport, Connecticut, spent four months in Pakistan last year.
His ties to Pakistan and the arrest of Rehan strengthened suspicions that the Times Square plot had at least some tentacles reaching overseas, authorities said.
Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced Shahzad’s arrest just after midnight Monday, saying he drove a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder found loaded with gasoline, propane, fireworks and fertiliser into the heart of Times Square Saturday evening.
Shahzad is believed to have bought the vehicle from a Connecticut woman within the last three weeks for $1,300, a person briefed on the investigation said, and it was that transaction that eventually led to his dramatic arrest on the airport tarmac.
The suspect was already aboard Emirates Flight 202 when he was identified by the Department of Homeland Security’s US Customs and Border Protection, according to a joint statement issued by the office of Preet Bharara, the US attorney for the Southern District of New York; the FBI, and the New York Police Department.
Officials called the plane back, the airline said. All of the passengers were taken off, and they, their luggage and the Boeing 777 were screened before the flight was allowed to depart, about seven hours late, at 6:29 a.m.
Two other men were also interviewed by authorities but were released, according to one law enforcement official. It was not known when Shahzad bought his ticket.
The gun found in the car was described as a Kel-Tec automatic pistol with a folding stock and a rifle barrel, along with several spare magazines, said one official briefed on the matter.
Investigators were initially concerned that the Isuzu SUV in the airport parking lot was also rigged with a bomb, and the Port Authority police set up a perimeter until it was determined that the car contained no explosive device, the official said.
The law enforcement official who said Shahzad had implicated himself also revealed more details of his purchase of the Pathfinder, saying that the authorities had found Shahzad using the e-mail address he had given the seller.
The official said that the two had met in a parking lot in Connecticut, that Shahzad had given the Pathfinder a test drive, and that he had then negotiated the price down to $1,300 from the $1,800 initially sought by the seller.
While Shahzad said he had acted alone, law enforcement officials have said the investigation is, in the words of one, “very much ongoing”, and the FBI agents and police detectives from the Joint Terrorism Task Force who arrested him have not developed evidence to either prove or disprove his claims.
Charges against Shahzad were not announced, but he is expected to be charged Tuesday in a federal court.
“Over the course of the day today, we have gathered significant additional evidence that led to tonight’s arrest,” Holder said. “The investigation is ongoing, as are our attempts to gather useful intelligence, and we continue to pursue a number of leads”.
“But it’s clear that the intent behind this terrorist act was to kill Americans,” he added.
An official in Pakistan’s interior ministry said Shahzad came to Pakistan in April 2009 and departed August 5 on an Emirates flight. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said Shahzad stayed in the port city of Karachi during that period.
A senior Pakistani security official whose organisation works closely with American officials said the Americans had yet to share details of the case with Pakistanis. He said the focus of the investigation would depend on where Shahzad is believed to have traveled after reaching Pakistan.
Some reports said Shahzad traveled to Peshawar, the gateway city to the country’s militant-controlled western border with Afghanistan.
The US authorities began focusing on Shahzad after they tracked the sport utility vehicle to its previously registered owner in Bridgeport, who had advertised it for sale on the internet.
The former owner said the buyer paid cash, and the sale was handled without any formal paperwork.
The authorities have been exploring whether the man or others who might have been involved in the attempted bombing had been in contact with people or groups overseas, according to federal officials.
The investigation was shifted Monday to the control of the international terrorism branch of the Joint Terrorism Task Force, a multiagency group led by the Justice Department, according to two federal officials.
“As we move forward, we will focus on not just holding those responsible for it accountable, but also on obtaining any intelligence about terrorist organisations overseas,” Holder was quoted as saying.
Officials cautioned that the investigation of possible international contacts did not mean that they had established a connection to a known terrorist group.
“It’s a prominent lead that they’re following, the international association,” said a senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss a continuing investigation. “But there’s still a lot of information being gathered.”
President Obama was notified of the arrest at 12:05 a.m. by his counterterrorism adviser, John O. Brennan, the sixth time he had been briefed on the case over the past day, said Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary.
Early Tuesday, at Shahzad’s former home in Shelton, just outside Bridgeport, a neighbour said Shahzad and his wife, Huma Mian, spoke limited English and kept mostly to themselves.
The couple have two young children, a girl and a boy, said the neighbour, Brenda Thurman.
Thurman said the couple had lived at the house for about three years before moving out last year. Shahzad left around May, she said, and his wife followed about a month later.
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- Times Square bomb suspect admits he was trained in Pakistan - May 05, 2010
- Keep a tab on no-fly list, US tells airlines - May 06, 2010
- Faisal Shahzad, the suspect in failed Times Square car bombing born in Karachi - May 04, 2010
- Pakistani-American indicted in Times Square car bomb attempt (Lead) - Jun 18, 2010
- Suspect in failed Times Square car bombing Faisal Shahzad arrested at JFK airport - May 04, 2010
- Times Square bomb suspect travelled often to Pakistan (Lead) - May 05, 2010
- Times Square would-be bomber received terror training in Pakistan - May 05, 2010
- Shahzad Faisal Arrested In Times Square Bombing Case - May 04, 2010
- US seeks Pakistan's help in Times Square bomb probe (Second Lead) - May 04, 2010
- NYPD questions SUV owner - May 04, 2010
- Another Pakistani arrested in Times Square bombing case - May 22, 2010
- Shahzad pleads guilty, warns of more attacks - Jun 22, 2010
- Pakistani American arrested in connection with failed Times Square bombing plot - May 04, 2010
- Pakistan links of Times Square suspect grows stronger - May 07, 2010
Tags: bridgeport connecticut, connecticut man, fertiliser, isuzu trooper, jfk airport, karachi pakistan, militant group, morning prayers, new york times, nissan pathfinder, north nazimabad, northwestern city, pakistani man, pakistani origin, peshawar, rehan, security officials, shahzad, square plot, times square