Tuesday, May 04, 2010

I'm Shocked, Shocked a Muslim tried to bomb Times Square

It's a good thing muslims are generally incompetent. The muslims who want to kill non-muslims seem to have spent most of their time developing their hostilities rather than their bomb-making skills. As a result, we feel a small amount of relief.

U.S. citizen from Pakistan arrested in Times Square bomb case

Washington Post
Tuesday, May 4, 2010; 6:17 AM

Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. announced early Tuesday that an arrest had been made in the failed Times Square car bombing, saying that Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old American, was taken into custody at John F. Kennedy International Airport as he tried to fly to Dubai on Monday night.

Authorities said Shahzad, who is of Pakistani origin and lived in Connecticut, had paid cash for a Nissan Pathfinder that was found packed with explosives Saturday night on a tourist-crowded block in midtown Manhattan. The vehicle was set ablaze but failed to detonate.

Officials located Shahzad after a sweeping two-day investigation that yielded what senior Obama administration officials described as a flood of international and domestic clues suggesting a plot involving more than one person.

"It was clear that the intent behind this terrorist act was to kill Americans," Holder said at a rare middle-of-the-night news conference at the Justice Department, nearly three hours after the suspect was pulled from an international flight that had already left the departure gate.

Administration officials said President Obama had been repeatedly briefed on the incident -- which authorities said could have led to significant casualties if the explosives had detonated properly -- since it began unfolding Saturday night. It bore some resemblance to the attempted bombing of an airliner in Detroit last Christmas Day, with citizen watchdogs earning much of the credit for averting the crisis and the White House scrambling to discover clues about a young male suspect with apparent ties that stretched beyond the United States.

Still, within 48 hours, agents from Customs and Border Protection arrested Shahzad and took him into custody. It was not immediately clear what the charges were or where he was being held -- or whether other arrests were imminent. The U.S. attorney's office in New York said Shahzad will appear in Manhattan federal court Tuesday to be formally charged.

Authorities became aware of Shahzad's identity Monday afternoon, and he was arrested at about 11:45 p.m. Monday. Shahzad's flight to Dubai had left the gate and was headed toward the runway when authorities discovered that he was on board and wanted. He was removed from the plane and taken into custody, an official said.

Officials were reluctant to discuss Shahzad's potential ties to foreign extremists, except to say that they believed he was fleeing the country at the time of his arrest.

Shahzad recently returned from a five-month trip to Pakistan, a government official said.

The centerpiece of the investigation was evidence gathered about the sale of the car. "That was the key factor to our getting the guy so quick," a U.S. law enforcement official said. Shahzad allegedly bought the car for $1,300 about a week ago, responding to an Internet listing, the official said.

A listing on www.nothingbutcars.net that appears to match the car sold from Bridgeport, Conn., offers a "Grey 1993 Nissan Pathfinder (automatic) (sold as is) with 141,000 miles CLEAN inside and out!!"

"It does have some rust as you can see in the picture," the owner said in the listing.

An FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force had taken over the investigation Monday amid growing indications of a possible international connection, U.S. officials and law enforcement sources said.

Investigators and agents also were scouring international phone records showing calls "between some of the people who might be associated with this and folks overseas," according to a U.S. official who has discussed the case with intelligence officers. Investigators uncovered evidence -- a piece of paper, fingerprints or possibly both -- that also indicates international ties, according to a federal official briefed on the investigation. Before Shahzad's arrest, the official said the material points to "an individual who causes concern to [investigators], who has overseas connections, and they are looking for him."

An overseas angle does not necessarily mean that the incident was planned or financed by al-Qaeda or another organized group, investigators said. "Think smaller," said one senior law enforcement official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

Even as investigators emphasized that the probe was in its early stages and little was definitively known, they were pursuing what Obama administration officials characterized as a flood of new leads, both foreign and domestic. The Pathfinder's registered owner, for example, told investigators that he sold it several weeks ago to a stranger, in a cash transaction through Craigslist.

On Monday, a day of fast-moving developments from Manhattan to Washington, Holder said in the morning that it was too early to designate the failed bombing as an attempted terrorist incident. By afternoon, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs was calling it just that.

"I would say that was intended to terrorize, and I would say that whomever did that would be categorized as a terrorist," Gibbs said, sharpening the administration's tone. Holder's statement early Tuesday called the incident a "terrorist act."

Differences also emerged over the significance of a surveillance video that caught a man in his 40s changing his shirt in an alley and looking over his shoulder near where the Pathfinder was parked. New York City police officials had characterized the man as acting suspiciously, but multiple federal law enforcement officials said he may not be the focus of the investigation.

"It looks like he was just taking off his shirt because he was hot," said one law enforcement official. Investigators were seeking to find another person captured on video running north on Broadway away from the area where the smoking sport-utility vehicle caused an evacuation of Times Square on a crowded weekend night.

Police said the bomb would have created a fireball that likely would have killed or wounded many people, making it the most serious bombing attempt in the United States since the Christmas Day attack aboard a commercial flight bound for Detroit.

The growing evidence of terrorist connections in the Times Square case prompted the New York-based terrorism task force to take the lead in the investigation, which had been overseen by the New York Police Department, a senior U.S. law enforcement official said. That indicates that the failed bombing is being investigated as a terrorist incident with international connections, the official said.

FBI Special Agent Richard Kolko of the New York field office said in a statement Monday night that the "FBI JTTF [Joint Terrorism Task Force] and NYPD are working this case jointly and have been since the beginning." The New York police force, known for its expertise in terrorism matters, is represented on the task force and will remain heavily involved in the probe, officials said.

In the rear of the SUV, police found a makeshift bomb made up of three tanks of propane similar to those used in backyard barbecues; two jugs of gasoline; dozens of M-88 firecrackers, which are legal for purchase in some states; and a metal gun case holding 100 pounds of fertilizer that police said was incapable of exploding.

Some officials cautioned that the international focus did not mean that other possibilities, such as domestic terrorism or an individual acting alone, were being ruled out. Neither did it mean, they said, that international ties automatically constituted a well-formed plot.

One federal law enforcement official, for example, said international communications don't necessarily "get you to an international plot, a multi-organizational plot."

"We're just not there," the official said.

The nature of the possible international connection also remained murky.

The Pakistani Taliban had asserted responsibility for the attempted bombing in a video posted on YouTube, but New York police and federal investigators have said no evidence had surfaced linking the group to the bomb.

On Sunday night, a second video was posted by apparent representatives of the Taliban, showing the group's commander, Hakimullah Mehsud, promising to launch attacks in the United States.

Mehsud, who U.S. and Pakistani authorities initially believed was killed in a January drone strike, was recorded saying, "The time is very near when our fedayeen will attack the American states in their major cities . . . in some days or a month's time."

The video is marked with the logo of the Pakistani Taliban's official media wing, Umar Studios, and appears to be credible, according to Evan F. Kohlmann, a terrorism consultant at Flashpoint Partners.

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