Officials believe Times Sq. suspect acted alone

May 5, 2010 8:44:40 PM PDT
The Pakistani-American accused of a failed car bombing in Times Square is believed to have worked alone in the United States on the plot almost immediately after returning from a five-month visit to his native land, authorities said Wednesday. But the suspect under arrest, Faisal Shahzad, confessed that he received training from Taliban experts in Pakistan.

Now, Shahzad is reportedly giving authorities plenty of information, delaying his appearance in federal court. Authorities say Shahzad, who faces life in prison, has confessed to working alone and that his information has led to arrests in Pakistan.

The criminal complaint against him says, "Shadzad admits he attempted to detonate a bomb in Times Square." It was a crude device, and amateurish. But Shadzad did drive it to the heart of Times Square, where it could have had a devastating impact.

"It is clear that this was a terrorist plot aimed at murdering Americans at one of the busiest places in our country," Attorney General Eric Holder said. Tuesday.

The Nissan Pathfinder left at the scene gave investigators a VIN number, which led them to the previous owner. Her cell phone then led to Shahzad's cell phone, which was a throwaway with no name and bought with cash. But the phone had received four calls from Pakistan, and it had called a fireworks supplier in Pennsylvania.

An elaborate computer program narrowed the search to Shahzad in Bridgeport. By Sunday afternoon, he was under watch. Agents were set to arrest him that evening, but he eluded trackers, drove to JFK Airport, paid cash for a ticket and boarded an Emirates jet to Dubai, even though he was on the national "No-Fly List."

At the last minute, a computer alert in Virginia told Customs officials that Shahzad was about to escape, and he was pulled-off the jet.

"Clearly the guy was on the plane and shouldn't have been," Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.

Shahzad is reportedly telling authorities that he planned the attack in retaliation for constant drone attacks on the Taliban in Pakistan.

Officials in Pakistan say they have arrested two people directly connected to Shahzad, including his father in law. The other allegedly traveled to the United States to help set up the bombing plot.

We are also learning more about Shahzad, who apparently spent a decade on the path to respectability before abandoning his house in Connecticut and deciding to supplement his business degrees with explosives training in Pakistan, authorities say.

Shahzad, the 30-year-old son of a retired official in Pakistan's air force, had a life in the U.S. appeared that appeared enviable until recently. He had a Master's degree from the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, a job as a budget analyst for a marketing firm in Norwalk, Conn., two children and a well-educated wife who posted his smiling picture and lovingly called him "my everything" on a social networking website.

But shortly after becoming a U.S. citizen a year ago, he gave up his job, stopped paying his mortgage and told a real estate agent to let the bank take the house because he was returning to Pakistan.

Once there, according to investigators, he traveled to the lawless Waziristan region and learned bomb making at a terrorist training camp.

In court papers, investigators said Shahzad returned to the U.S. on Feb. 3, moved into an apartment in a low-rent section of Bridgeport, then set about acquiring materials and an SUV he bought with cash in late April. They said that after his arrest, Shahzad confessed to rigging the bomb and driving it into Times Square. He also acknowledged getting training in Pakistan, the filing said.

Shahzad came to the U.S. in late 1998 on a student visa. Not long after earning his MBA, he took a job at the Affinion Group, which does brand-loyalty marketing, and stayed there until leaving voluntarily in May 2009, a company spokesman said.

His path to citizenship was eased by his marriage to an American, Huma Mian. Like her husband, Mian was well-educated, with a business degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

On her profile on the social networking site Orkut, she described herself as "not political," said she spoke English, Pashto, Urdu and French and listed her passions as "fashion, shoes, bags, shopping!! And of course, Faisal."

She posted a picture of Shahzad, smiling, with the caption, "what can I say ... he's my everything."