Faisal Shahzed's failed escape

May 4, 2010 12:41:07 PM PDT
It was one of Maxwell Smart's best lines: "Missed it by THAT much."

Federal agents and New York City police detectives were THAT close to having that happen to them last night, as Faisal Shahzed, suspected of leaving a potential SUV bomb in Times Square, was on a plane which was on the taxi-way, ready to take off for Dubai. He must have been breathing hard, but with a sense of relief and victory, having eluded authorities and federally hired bounty hunters.

What must he have been thinking as the plane suddenly turned around and headed back? What did the pilot say? That we have mechanical problems? That there's a suspected terrorist on board? (I doubt that.) And how did Mr. Shahzed react, outwardly and inwardly? Oh to have seen his face when the feds boarded the plane and arrested him.

It's a happy ending, and there are plenty of boy-howdy's going around. But the truth is they came very close to losing Shahzed. And once he had made it to Dubai, they would have had no shot at ever getting him.

Turns out the feds hired a third party to keep tabs of Shahzed in New York after they identified him as the suspect.

That's right. They outsourced the tailing of this guy. We're trying to figure out why they do this.

We're also taking a closer look at who Shahzed is, and why no one raised a red flag about his possible jihadist behavior. The naturalized American, who hailed from Pakistan, got two degrees from the University of Bridgeport, including an MBA. And he was a junior financial analyst with an investment company in Stamford.

He owned a home that reportedly went into foreclosure last summer. And he moved his wife and two kids back to Pakistan, then returned five months later.

No one, not in school or at his work, ever heard him talk politics or about jihad? Hard to imagine.

We'll have complete coverage of the terror plot tonight at 11 - the 11th terror plot against New York City since the Sept. 11 terror attacks. Lots of 11's in there.

One of the most chilling lines today came from NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, in Washington at Attorney General Eric Holder's news conference.

Said the commish: "True, we can all breathe a little easier. But we have to stay vigilant, nonetheless. That's because in the eyes of terrorists, New York is America, and they keep coming back to kill us."

Also at 11, our Diana Williams is covering the oil slick in the Gulf Coast and will have the latest.

We'll also have any breaking news of the night, plus Lee Goldberg's AccuWeather forecast, and Scott Clark with the night's sports. I hope you can join Liz Cho and me, tonight at 11.