Faisal Shahzad, prime suspect in the Times Square bomb plot in New York City earlier this month, appeared before a judge on Tuesday for the first time since his arrest on May 3.
At the hearing Shahzad was notified of five felony charges that had been brought against him, and of the possibility that he might face a sentence of life in prison. He did not contest his continued detention without bail.
One charge on each of the following counts was made against Shahzad: attempting terrorism by attempting to kill people; attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction; using a destructive device in connection with an attempted crime of violence; transporting explosives; and attempting to destroy property with fire and explosives.
Shahzad had thus far not been produced in court after voluntarily waiving his right to arraignment. In the interim period he has been providing “valuable intelligence from which further investigative action has been taken,” according to Preet Bharara, New York federal attorney.
At the hearing Shahzad, represented by federal defence attorney Julia Gatto, only said one word, “Yes,” in response to a question on an affidavit related to his finances. According to reports the judge set the date for his next hearing on June 1. Shahzad was then handcuffed and led from the courtroom in a proceeding that took less than ten minutes.
Shahzad, a Pakistan-born naturalised citizen of the United States, was stopped from fleeing the country on an aircraft from New York’s John F. Kennedy airport moments before his flight was set to take off. His dramatic arrest came days after federal authorities linked him to a Nissan Pathfinder loaded with explosives and parked in the New York’s bustling Times Square.
In the days leading up to his arraignment top U.S. intelligence officials Leon Panetta and James Jones travelled to Pakistan to keep up the pressure on Pakistani authorities investigating Shahzad’s links to terror networks there.
Authorities in the U.S. also recently obtained some insights into Shahzad’s motivation behind the attack when they discovered emails from him that purportedly questioned democracy and favoured an Islamic system of governance in which the state is ruled by Islamic law.
Regarding Shahzad’s email Lisa Curtis, Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation, said, even if it was unclear as to which organisations or individuals may have contributed to the development of his violent Islamist worldview, or whether he was self-radicalised through the internet, “We must understand and take more seriously the Islamist ideology and narrative that he spells out and that drives much of the terrorism directed at the U.S. and other nations.”