A Pakistani man arrested in Massachusetts during the investigation last year into the failed Times Square bombing was deported on Sunday by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) after pleading guilty in federal court to fraud charges.
Aftab Ali Khan, 28, formerly of Watertown, Mass., was flown to Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad, Pakistan, accompanied by ICE agents on a flight from Boston Logan International Airport. He had been in federal custody since May 2010 when he, his uncle and another man were arrested following the failed attempt to bomb New York’s Times Square on May 1, 2010.
He pleaded guilty to charges of unlicensed money transmitting and immigration document fraud. U.S. District Court Judge Denise J. Casper sentenced Khan to time served, 11 months, and to three years of supervised release — and then was ordered into the custody of ICE for deportation proceedings.
A complaint unsealed Nov. 16 said Khan entered the United States in August 2009 to marry his then-fiancee and began working at a Brookline, Mass., gas station without a required work permit. Federal prosecutors said that three months later, after marrying a different woman, Khan defrauded the government by filing documents to adjust his immigration status in which he knowingly omitted his unauthorized employment.
Following the Times Square attempted bombing, investigators obtained evidence that Khan had provided $4,900 to Faisal Shahzad, who later was convicted of carrying out the bombing attempt. Khan borrowed the money and transferred it to Shahzad in February 2010 as part of a “hawala” transaction in which Khan’s family received an equivalent amount of money in Pakistan.
Shahzad, 30, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, was sentenced in October to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole. Court records show he had sought to “wreak death and destruction” with a bomb he placed in a car he parked May 1, 2010, in Times Square.
He pleaded guilty in June 2010 in federal court in New York, just days after a federal grand jury indicted him on 10 terrorism and weapons counts. He entered the plea before U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, along with a statement in which he warned America to gets its military out of Iraq and Afghanistan and to stop drone attacks against the two countries or “We will be attacking U.S.”
Calling himself a “Muslim soldier,” Shahzad also said he was “part of the answer to the U.S. terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people,” admitting he actually tried to detonate three separate bombs in an SUV parked near a Broadway theater. All three failed.
Shahzad was taken into custody at John F. Kennedy International Airport on May 3, 2010, after he was identified by U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agents as he attempted to leave the United States on a commercial flight to Dubai. According to the indictment, Shahzad drove his Nissan Pathfinder loaded with improvised explosive and incendiary devices on May 1, 2010, to Manhattan and parked it in Times Square. It said he attempted to begin the detonation process, then abandoned the vehicle and returned to his residence in Connecticut.
Khan conducted money transmission business transactions without complying with federal registration requirements, a complaint in the case said. The complaint did not charge that Khan was complicit in the Times Square attempted bombing or knew what Shahzad intended to do with the money.
ICE’s investigation of Khan was conducted cooperatively as part of a team of 20 federal, state and local law enforcement agencies on the FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF). The investigators worked around the clock for several days to resolve questions about Khan’s money transfers relating to the 2010 failed bombing in Times Square.
Khan’s removal from the United States was part of a plea deal involving a deportation order that followed his admission that he lied to federal agents investigating him. Khan’s request to appeal the deportation order was dismissed by the Board of Immigration Appeals (BIA) on Jan. 4.