War on Terrorism

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Times Square Investigation: The Criminal Complaint

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Charges Faisal Shahzad with Attempted Car Bombing in Times Square

PREET BHARARA, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, GEORGE VENIZELOS, the Special Agent-in-Charge of the New York Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation ("FBI"), and RAYMOND W. KELLY, the Police Commissioner of the City of New York, announced that FAISAL SHAHZAD was charged today with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, and other federal crimes for allegedly driving a car bomb into Times Square on the evening of May 1, 2010. SHAHZAD, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, was taken into custody at John F. Kennedy International Airport on May 3, 2010, after he was identified by the Department of Homeland Security's U.S. Customs and Border Protection while attempting to leave the United States by means of a commercial flight to Dubai.

According to the Complaint filed today in Manhattan federal court:

In April 2010, SHAHZAD contacted the seller of a Nissan Pathfinder after seeing an advertisement posted on a website. Thereafter, on April 24, 2010, SHAHZAD and the seller of the Pathfinder agreed to meet in a supermarket parking lot in Connecticut, where SHAHZAD paid the seller $1300 for the Pathfinder.

On May 1, 2010, a Pathfinder was discovered, abandoned, on the street in Times Square. Inside the Pathfinder were multiple, filled propane tanks, gasoline canisters, and fertilizer—as well as fireworks, clocks, wiring, and other items, including a key to an Isuzu and residential keys. When emergency services workers arrived on the scene, the Pathfinder was visibly smoking. The items in the back of the Pathfinder were smoldering; it appeared that the occupant of the Pathfinder had attempted to initiate an explosion. Hours later, when lawenforcement officers entered the Pathfinder, a number of keys were recovered, including a key to an Isuzu automobile.

Over the past few days, the investigation has revealed that SHAHZAD bought the Pathfinder with cash on April 24, 2010; that he drove an Isuzu; and that one of the keys in the Pathfinder opened the door to SHAHZAD's Connecticut residence. In addition, and among other things, the investigation has revealed that SHAHZAD used a pre-paid cellular telephone—which has not been used since April 28—both to call a fireworks store and to receive a series of calls from Pakistan following his purchase of the Pathfinder.

After his arrest, SHAHZAD stated that he had recently received bomb-making training in Waziristan, Pakistan. In addition, SHAHZAD admitted that he had brought the Pathfinder to Times Square—and attempted there to detonate it. SHAHZAD also noted that he had driven a particular car to John F. Kennedy International Airport on May 3, 2010, and stated that the car contained a gun. Law enforcement officers then identified SHAHZAD's car and located a gun inside.

SHAHZAD is charged with one count of use of weapons of mass destruction, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison; one count of acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison; one count of use of a destructive device in connection with a crime of violence, which carries a consecutive mandatory minimum sentence of 30 years in prison; one count of transporting and receiving explosives, which carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison; and one count of damaging and destroying property by means of fire and explosives, which carries a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison and a statutory maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

SHAHZAD, 30, resides in Shelton, Connecticut.

U.S. Attorney PREET BHARARA stated: "I would like to thank the ordinary and alert Americans, who first sounded the alarm upon observing the startling sight of a smoking Nissan Pathfinder in the middle of Manhattan last Saturday night. As a result of a lot of good old-fashioned police work, that smoking car turned into the smoking gun that led to the capture of Faisal Shahzad, who allegedly put a bullseye on Times Square, which lies at the heart of our city and the crossroads of the world. This Office, with all of the agencies who work hand-in-glove, day after day, on the Joint Terrorism Task Force, will not rest until every last terrorist is neutralized and held to account."

FBI Special Agent-in-Charge GEORGE VENIZELOS said: "The FBI and our partners have the primary responsibility for preventing and apprehending those who would do us harm. The agents and officers who brought about the swift and safe resolution of the Times Square incident are to be commended for their diligence and determination. Faisal Shahzad now faces the grim prospect of a future in prison. But this fast-breaking investigation shows the paramount importance of ordinary people being vigilant while going about their lives. In an open society, the rule of law and the preservation of liberty depend on everyone."

Police Commissioner RAYMOND W. KELLY stated: "New York can breathe a little easier today. That's due in large measure to the investigative muscle and alacrity of NYPD detectives and FBI agents, not to mention the eagle-eyed customs personnel on duty last night at JFK. I also want to commend United States Attorney Preet Bharara and his able assistants. They worked closely with the NYPD, not only in this case, but in prosecuting many others to make certain that criminals in the Southern District of New York face justice. The NYPD bomb squad risked their lives to dismantle a lethal assembly that turned the pathfinder into one big hurt locker. While we can all breath a little easier, we have to stay vigilant because in the eyes of terrorists, New York is America, and they keep coming back to kill us."

Mr. BHARARA praised the investigative efforts of the Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in New York and Connecticut, especially those JTTF members from the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the New York City Police Department. Mr. BHARARA thanked the U.S. Customs and Border Patrol for their assistance. He also expressed his gratitude to the trial attorneys with the United States Department of Justice's National Security Division, as well as the United States Attorney's Office for the District of Connecticut.

Assistant United States Attorneys BRENDAN R. MCGUIRE, RANDALL W. JACKSON, and JOHN P. CRONAN from the Office's Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit are in charge of the prosecution.

The charges contained in the Complaint are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.

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