Times Square Suspect Shahzad Indicted in Bomb Attempt
Faisal Shahzad, accused in the attempted May 1 car-bombing of New York’s Times Square, was indicted on 10 terrorism-related charges by a federal grand jury, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.
Shahzad, 30, was charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction in yesterday’s indictment, which disclosed new details about the failed plot. He has been held without bail since appearing before a federal magistrate on May 18, when he was assigned a lawyer.
In the indictment, prosecutors added five new charges to their case against Shahzad, including conspiracy counts and an attempted terrorist act transcending national borders. He was also charged with criminal possession of a 9 mm Kel-Tec rifle, which was found loaded in his car the day of his arrest.
“The facts alleged in this indictment show that the Pakistani Taliban facilitated Faisal Shahzad’s attempted attack on American soil,” U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said yesterday in a statement. “Our nation averted serious loss of life in this attempted bombing, but it is a reminder that we face an evolving threat that we must continue to fight with every tool available to the government.”
Holder previously said that Shahzad admitted his role in the bombing attempt and cooperated with authorities after his arrest.
Shahzad faces as long as life in prison if convicted of the most serious charges against him, prosecutors said.
The government disclosed new details to its case against Shahzad, including allegations he conspired with “others known and unknown” and received instruction from explosives trainers affiliated with Tehrik-e-Taliban, described by prosecutors as a militant extremist group based in the Waziristan region of Pakistan.
Shahzad received financing to carry out the attack, including about $5,000 on Feb. 25 from an unidentified co- conspirator in Massachusetts who Shahzad “understood worked for Tehrik-e-Taliban,” prosecutors said in court papers.
Shahzad received about $7,000 on April 10 in Ronkonkoma on Long Island east of New York City, according to the indictment. That money was sent at the unidentified co-conspirator’s direction, prosecutors said. Shahzad bought a prepaid cellular telephone on April 16 and a Nissan Pathfinder on April 24.
Prosecutors said in a May 4 criminal complaint that Shahzad drove the Pathfinder carrying an improvised bomb made of firecrackers, propane tanks and gasoline canisters into the crowded Manhattan crossroads. The vehicle was found abandoned and smoking on the street as the items in the back smoldered, the U.S. said in court papers.
The indictment “charges Faisal Shahzad with conspiring with the Pakistani Taliban to wreak death and destruction in Times Square,” Bharara said in yesterday’s statement. “This office will continue to work in lock-step with our partners at the FBI and the NYPD to protect New York City from the threat posed by terrorists and those who would support them.”
Shahzad is scheduled to appear in court on June 21 to be arraigned before U.S. District Judge Miriam Cedarbaum in Manhattan, prosecutors said in the statement.
Julia Gatto, a lawyer for Shahzad, didn’t immediately return a voice-mail message seeking comment yesterday.
Shahzad was arrested at about 11 p.m. on May 3 at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport after boarding a flight to Dubai.
At the May 18 court hearing, U.S. Magistrate Judge James Francis ordered Shahzad held without bail, as requested by Assistant U.S. Attorney Randall Jackson and consented to by Gatto. Shahzad didn’t enter a plea at the hearing.
Federal agents probing the attempted car bombing arrested three people on May 13 on immigration charges in a series of raids in the northeastern U.S., law enforcement officials said. No one else has been publicly charged in the plot by U.S. authorities.
The searches were “the product of evidence that has been gathered in the investigation since the attempted Times Square bombing” and didn’t relate to any known new threat, federal authorities said.
A Pakistan-born naturalized U.S. citizen, Shahzad was funded and directed by the Taliban group based in Pakistan, Holder said in a May 9 interview. Authorities said the plot dated back to December.
Shahzad, who lived in Bridgeport, Connecticut, told authorities he “recently” received bomb-making instructions in Waziristan, the U.S. said in court papers. He also told officials he tried to detonate the improvised bomb in the Pathfinder and tried to flee the U.S. after the failed attack, prosecutors said.
The case is U.S. v. Shahzad, 10-00928, U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York (Manhattan).