Faisal Shahzad pleaded guilty today in Manhattan federal court before U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum to all counts of the 10-count indictment against him, for allegedly driving a car bomb into Times Square on the evening of May 1, 2010, the Justice Department announced.
Shahzad, 30, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, was taken into custody at John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK 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 on a commercial flight to Dubai. Shahzad was then charged in a five-count criminal complaint. On May 18, 2010, he was presented in Manhattan federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge James C. Francis IV. Last week, on June 17, 2010, Shahzad was indicted in the Southern District of New York.
“Faisal Shahzad plotted and launched an attack that could have led to serious loss of life, and today the American criminal justice system ensured that he will pay the price for his actions,” Attorney General Eric Holder said. “We will not rest in bringing to justice terrorists who seek to harm the American people, and we will use every tool available to the government to do so.”
“This investigation included a combination of traditional law enforcement techniques and intelligence-based authorities, with men and women from a number of agencies working side-by-side in support of a common goal,” said FBI Director Robert S. Mueller.
“Today, less than two months after his arrest, Faisal Shahzad pleaded guilty to 10 felony charges for attempting to carry out a plot to bomb the heart of New York City,” said Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York. “In admitting his guilt today, Shahzad reminded us of the uniquely serious threat that our city faces every single day. I express my gratitude and admiration for the agents and detectives of the FBI and New York Police Department (NYPD) who dedicate their lives to the daily fight to keep this city, its residents and its visitors, safe from harm.”
U.S. Attorney Bharara added that there is no plea agreement between the government and Shahzad, and that the investigation is continuing. Shahzad is scheduled to be sentenced by Judge Cedarbaum on Oct. 5, 2010, at 10 a.m.
According to the indictment to which Shahzad pleaded guilty, statements made during today’s proceeding, and the criminal complaint filed in Manhattan federal court:
In December 2009, Shahzad received explosives training in Waziristan, Pakistan, from explosive trainers affiliated with Tehrik-e-Taliban, a militant extremist group based in Pakistan. On Feb. 25, 2010, Shahzad received approximately $5,000 in cash in Massachusetts sent from a co-conspirator (CC-1) in Pakistan whom Shahzad understood worked for Tehrik-e-Taliban. Approximately six weeks later, on April 10, 2010, Shahzad received an additional $7,000 in cash in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., which was also sent at CC-1’s direction.
On March 15, 2010, Shahzad purchased a semi-automatic 9 millimeter Kel-Tec rifle in Connecticut. This rifle was found, loaded, in Shahzad’s car on the day of his arrest.
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 $1,300 for the Pathfinder. In April 2010, Shahzad also purchased components for the improvised explosive and incendiary devices that he loaded into the Pathfinder on May 1, 2010.
On May 1, 2010, Shahzad drove the Pathfinder, loaded with the improvised explosive and incendiary devices, to Manhattan and parked the Pathfinder in Times Square in the vicinity of 45th Street and Seventh Avenue. After parking the Pathfinder, Shahzad attempted to begin the detonation process of the improvised explosive and incendiary devices. Thereafter, Shahzad abandoned the Pathfinder and returned to his residence in Connecticut.
On May 3, 2010, Shahzad drove from Connecticut to JFK Airport as he attempted to flee to Dubai. He was arrested later that same day at JFK Airport. After his arrest, Shahzad admitted that he had recently received bomb-making training in Pakistan. He also admitted that he had brought the Pathfinder to Times Square and attempted to detonate it.
The indictment filed against Shahzad last week charges him with 10 offenses which carry the following potential penalties:
|Count||Charge||Maximum Prison Term|
|1||Attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction||Life|
|2||Conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction||Life|
|3||Possession of a firearm during and in relation to a conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction||Life*|
|4||Attempted act of terrorism transcending national boundaries||Life|
|5||Conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries||Life|
|6||Attempted use of a destructive device during and in relation to a conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries||Life*|
|7||Transportation of an explosive||10 years|
|8||Conspiracy to transport an explosive||10 years|
|9||Attempted destruction of property by fire and explosive||20 years*|
|10||Conspiracy to destroy property by fire and explosive||20 years*|
* Counts Three, Nine, and Ten each carry a mandatory minimum penalty of five years in prison. Because Shahzad pleaded guilty to Count Three, Count Six carries a mandatory minimum penalty of life in prison.
FBI New York Acting Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos stated: “Today’s guilty plea is right on the mark. Faisal Shahzad was poised and ready to terrorize the citizens and visitors of New York City, and threaten the security of our nation. He set out to act on radical ideologies, but his evil plans were thwarted. The vigilance on behalf of ordinary citizens who alerted law enforcement of suspicious activity, and strength and swift actions taken by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF), diverted this intended attack on our homeland. It’s the hard work of the FBI team along with our partnerships with law enforcement and the intelligence community that enables us to fight terrorism every day.”
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said, “The plea reflects outstanding and timely work by NYPD detectives and FBI agents in the immediate aftermath of the discovery of the car bomb in Times Square, as well as that of the accomplished team of prosecutors headed by United States Attorney Preet Bharara. We remain alert to and concerned by the threat of home grown terrorism aimed at New York City.”
The indictment was the result of the investigative efforts of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force (JTTF) in New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts, especially those JTTF members from the FBI and the New York City Police Department. U.S. Customs and Border Protection also made significant contributions to the case. Substantial assistance was also provided by the Justice Department’s National Security Division, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Offices for the Districts of Connecticut and Massachusetts.
The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Brendan R. McGuire, Randall W. Jackson, John P. Cronan and Jeffrey A. Brown of the Terrorism and International Narcotics Unit in the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of New York.
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