- The Washington Times - Monday, June 21, 2010

A naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan who sought to “wreak death and destruction” with a bomb he placed in a car he parked May 1 in Times Square pleaded guilty Monday in federal court in New York, just days after a federal grand jury indicted him on 10 terrorism and weapons counts.

Faisal Shahzad, 30, 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,” Mr. Shahzad also said he was “part of the answer to the U.S. terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people,” admitting that he actually tried to detonate three separate bombs in an SUV parked near a Broadway theater. All three failed.

In an exchange with the judge, Mr. Shahzad said he was not concerned whether his bomb would injure children, adding that the U.S. didn’t care when children were killed in Muslim countries.

“It’s a war,” he said. “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.”

An Oct. 5 sentencing date has been scheduled, where he could be sentenced to life in prison. He pleaded guilty to all 10 counts of the indictment.

“Faisal Shahzad plotted and launched an attack that could have led to serious loss of life, and today the American criminal justice system ensured that he will pay the price for his actions,” Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said. “We will not rest in bringing to justice terrorists who seek to harm the American people.”

Authorities said Mr. Shahzad began cooperating with investigators shortly after his arrest, admitting he had placed the bomb and had undergone bomb training in Pakistan. His court appearance had been delayed for two weeks while investigators continued to question him.

Mr. Shahzad was taken into custody at John F. Kennedy International Airport on May 3 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, Mr. Shahzad drove his Nissan Pathfinder loaded with improvised explosive and incendiary devices on May 1 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.

On May 3, the indictment said, Mr. Shahzad drove from Connecticut to JFK Airport, where he attempted to flee to Dubai.

He was arrested later that same day at JFK. After his arrest, federal and New York authorities said Mr. Shahzad admitted he had recently received bomb-making training in Pakistan and also admitted that he had brought the SUV to Times Square and attempted to detonate it.

According to the indictment and a separate five-count criminal complaint:

• Mr. Shahzad received explosives training in December in the Pakistani province of Waziristan from explosives trainers affiliated with Tehrik-e-Taliban, a militant extremist group in Pakistan. On Feb. 25, he received $5,000 in cash in Massachusetts sent from a co-conspirator in Pakistan and an additional $7,000 from the same source on April 10 in Ronkonkoma, N.Y.

• On March 15, Mr. Shahzad purchased a semiautomatic 9 millimeter Kel-Tec rifle in Connecticut. This loaded rifle was found in Mr. Shahzad’s car on the day of his arrest.

• In April, Mr. Shahzad contacted the seller of a Nissan Pathfinder after seeing an advertisement posted on a website, later paying the seller $1,300. That same month, he also bought components for the improvised explosive and incendiary devices he loaded into the vehicle.

The indictment accused Mr. Shahzad of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, possession of a firearm during and in relation to a conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempted act of terrorism transcending national boundaries and conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries.

Also, he was charged with attempted use of a destructive device during and in relation to a conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries, transportation of an explosive, conspiracy to transport an explosive, attempted destruction of property by fire and explosive, and conspiracy to destroy property by fire and explosive.

The criminal complaint said the sport utility vehicle contained three full propane gas tanks, two 5-gallon gasoline canisters and several plastic bags containing fertilizer, as well as 152 M-88 fireworks and two alarm clocks.

• Jerry Seper can be reached at jseper@washingtontimes.com.

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