The detained suspect in the plot to detonate a car bomb in New York’s Times Square has admitted to his role and is facing charges of attempting to carry out a terrorist attack, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday.
Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old U.S citizen from Pakistan, also faces charges of trying to detonate a weapon of mass destruction and other explosives-related crimes, Mr. Holder said. He is due in court later Tuesday after being arrested Monday while trying to flee the country.
Mr. Holder said federal and state authorities were pursuing a number of leads in a sweeping investigation. He said a number of “individuals have come up in the investigation” but would not say whether additional arrests were imminent.
“It is clear that this was a terrorism plot aimed at murdering Americans,” Mr. Holder said. He would not say whether the attempted attack was connected to a known terrorist organisation or whether Shahzad was acting alone or with others.
U.S. authorities arrested Shahzad at John F Kennedy International Airport after ordering his flight to Dubai return to the gate as it was heading to the runway. Mr. Holder said Shahzad has been answering questions and providing valuable information.
He could not confirm reports out of Pakistan that two other individuals have been arrested in Karachi in connection the plot.
Shahzad comes from the same city. Holder also said it was too early to comment on claims of responsibility from the Taliban movement in Pakistan.
Meanwhile, authorities continue to question Shahzad associates and search his home in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
The plot was uncovered Saturday when a street vendor in Times Square spotted a suspicious parked black SUV and alerted police, who discovered the bomb that failed to detonate. Federal Bureau of Investigations Deputy Director John Pistole said the bomb’s main gasoline and propane charges failed to ignite.
“It does not appear from our opinion to be the most sophisticated device,” Pistole said. “There are a number of opportunities for it to fail.” New York Police Department chief Raymond Kelly said authorities were able to trace the SUV back to Shahzad by locating a hidden vehicle identification number and finding the previous owner. He said Shazhad had destroyed a visible number and used a bogus license plate.
Authorities had identified Shazad as the suspect by Sunday night and there were no concerns he would be able to escape, Mr. Holder said.
“I was never in any fear that we were in danger of losing him,” he said.
The Pakistani Foreign Ministry in Islamabad confirmed the US ambassador has requested assistance in the investigation and pledged to fully cooperate.
“Our cooperation with the U.S. against terrorism is a constant and ongoing process, and if the US needs our assistance on this particular issue we will do all we can,” the spokesman, Abdul Basit, said.
Shahzad is among a dozen foreigners holding U.S. passports and green cards who have been arrested over the last two years on suspected terrorism charges. President Barack Obama said the plot shows that the threat of terrorism remains real despite the best efforts of the government to prevent it.
“This incident is another sobering reminder of the times in which we live,” Mr. Obama said.
Pakistan detains suspects
Pakistani law enforcement agencies have detained at least three people, including one suspect, in connection with the attempted weekend car bombing in New York City, Pakistani officials said on Tuesday.
Officials speaking on condition of anonymity confirmed the arrest of Tauseef Ahmad as a suspect in the case. He is believed to be the brother-in-law of Faisal Shahzad, a naturalised U.S. citizen who was arrested late Monday by U.S. authorities for allegedly parking a car containing a homemade bomb in Times Square on Saturday.
Ahmad was arrested in Pakistan’s southern port city of Karachi, hours after security officials took into custody Shahzad’s over 60- year-old mother, Zubaida Khatoon, and his father-in-law for questioning.
Shahzad has admitted to his role and is facing charges of attempting to carry out a terrorist attack, US Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday in Washington.
Shahzad, a 30-year-old US citizen from Karachi, also faces charges of trying to detonate a weapon of mass destruction and other explosives-related crimes, Mr. Holder said. He is due in court later Tuesday after being arrested Monday while trying to flee the country.
Shortly before police raided Shahzad’s family residence, Khatoon told reporters that in July her son travelled by road with his friend Mohammad Rehan from Karachi to Peshawar, the capital of Islamist militancy-plagued Pakhtunkhwa-Khyber, formerly known as North West Frontier Province.
On July 28, Shahzad returned from Peshawar and departed for the United States on August 5. Khatoon did not explain why Shahzad travelled to Peshawar.
Police also detained Shahzad’s father-in-law, identified by the first name Iftikhar, a security official who requested anonymity told German Press Agency DPA. Police have officially denied making the arrests.
The Pakistani government has constituted a team of investigators from the civilian Federal Investigation Bureau under senior official Khalid Qureshi to start a nationwide search for those who may have provided assistance to Shahzad.
The officials also told DPA that Shahzad was married in 2002. He has two children and his wife is residing in Karachi.