NEW YORK (AP) - A U.S. citizen from Pakistan accused of driving
a bomb-laden SUV into Times Square and parking it on a street lined
with restaurants and Broadway theaters was to appear in court
Tuesday to face charges for his failed attempt to set off a massive
fireball and kill Americans, federal authorities said.
The suspect, Faisal Shahzad, was taken into custody late Monday
by FBI agents and New York Police Department detectives while
trying to leave the country, according to U.S. Attorney General
Eric Holder and other officials. He was identified by customs
agents at John F. Kennedy International Airport and was stopped
before boarding a flight to Dubai, Holder said early Tuesday in
Shahzad is a naturalized U.S. citizen and had recently returned
from a five-month trip to Pakistan, where he had a wife, according
to law enforcement officials who spoke to The Associated Press on
condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the
investigation into the failed car bombing.
Shahzad was being held in New York overnight and couldn't be
contacted. A phone number at a listed address for Shahzad in
Shelton, Conn., wasn't in service.
The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan was handling the case
and said Shahzad would appear in court Tuesday, but the charges
were not made public. FBI agents searched the home at a known
address for Shahzad in Bridgeport, Conn., early Tuesday, said
Kimberly Mertz, the special agent in charge for the FBI in
Connecticut. She wouldn't answer questions about the search.
Law enforcement officials say Shahzad bought the SUV, a 1993
Nissan Pathfinder, from a Connecticut man about three weeks ago and
paid cash. The officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity
because of the sensitive nature of the case.
The vehicle identification number had been removed from the
Pathfinder's dashboard, but it was stamped on the engine, and
investigators used it to find the owner of record, who told them he
had sold the vehicle to a stranger.
As the SUV buyer came into focus, investigators backed off other
leads, although Holder said U.S. authorities "will not rest until
we have brought everyone responsible to justice," suggesting
additional suspects are being sought.
The SUV was parked on Saturday night on a busy midtown Manhattan
street near a theater showing "The Lion King." The explosive
device inside it had cheap-looking alarm clocks connected to a
16-ounce can filled with fireworks, which were apparently intended
to detonate gas cans and set propane tanks afire in a chain
reaction "to cause mayhem, to create casualties," police
Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
A metal rifle cabinet placed in the SUV's cargo area was packed
with fertilizer, but NYPD bomb experts believe it was not a type
volatile enough to explode like the ammonium nitrate grade
fertilizer used in previous terrorist bombings.
Police said the SUV bomb could have produced "a significant
fireball" and sprayed shrapnel with enough force to kill
pedestrians and knock out windows.
A vendor alerted a police officer to the parked SUV, which was
smoking. Times Square, clogged with tourists on a warm evening, was
shut down for 10 hours. A bomb squad dismantled the explosive
device, and no one was hurt.
But Holder said Americans should remain vigilant.
"It's clear," he said, "that the intent behind this terrorist
act was to kill Americans."
The Pakistani Taliban appeared to claim responsibility in videos
that surfaced after the weekend scare, monitoring groups said, but
police had no evidence to support the claims.
The SUV was parked near offices of Viacom Inc., which owns
Comedy Central. The network recently aired an episode of the
animated show "South Park" that the group Revolution Muslim had
complained insulted the Prophet Muhammad by depicting him in a bear
The date of the botched bombing, May 1, was International
Workers Day, a traditional date for political demonstrations, and
thousands of people had rallied for immigration reform that day in