June 21, 2010 — -- Faisal Shahzad pleaded guilty Monday afternoon to trying to explode a car bomb in Times Square on May 1, and to receiving terror training from the Pakistani Taliban, and warned that further attacks on the U.S. were coming.
The 30-year-old naturalized American, who was born in Pakistan and lived in Connecticut, pleaded guilty to ten different terror-related federal charges, two of which carry a mandatory life sentence.
After Shahzad pleaded guilty to the first charge, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, Judge Miriam Cedarbaum said, "I gather you want to plead guilty to all [the charges.]
"Yes," said Shahzad, and then said he wanted to plead guilty and 100 times more," because he wanted the U.S. to know it will continue to suffer attacks if it does not leave Iraq and Afghanistan and stop drone strikes in Pakistan.
Calm, but clearly angry, and standing the whole time, Shahzad spent nearly an hour giving the judge a narrative of his failed bombing attempt, and how he changed from a financial analyst with an MBA to a would-be bomber and what he called "part of the answer" to the U.S. killing of Muslims. He also confirmed that he had placed the bomb in Times Square at its busiest in order to do the maximum damage.
Shahzad admitted driving a Nissan Pathfinder into midtown Manhattan on Saturday evening, May 1, when the city's theater district was packed with tourists. He abandoned the SUV, which was stuffed with fireworks, propane, gasoline and fertilizer, after trying to use the fireworks to ignite the vehicle.
Shahzad's exchange with Judge Cedarbaum began with Shahzad reading a prepared statement. Cedarbaum then asked Shahzad not to read, but to speak instead.
Shahzad told Cedarbaum it took him six months to connect with the Taliban in Pakistan. He said he then spent 40 days with the Taliban in Waziristan, only five of which were devoted to bomb training.
Shahzad Considers Himself a "Muslim Soldier"
After his training, he spent February to April in the U.S. getting the money and materials together for a bombing and planning his attack.
"I made the bomb in a car and drove it to Times Square," he told Cedarbaum.
"All by yourself?" she asked.
"All by myself," he confirmed.
Shahzad said he didn't know why the device had failed to work, and that after lighting the fuse and waiting three-and-a-half to five minutes to hear the sound of an explosion that never came, he went to Grand Central train station and took a train back to Bridgeport, Connecticut.
He also said he had chosen no specific building, but had intentionally placed the bomb in Times Square during a busy time.
"You wanted to injure a lot of people," said Cedarbaum.
Shahzad said the judge needed to understand his role. "I consider myself a Muslim soldier," he said. When Cedarbaum asked whether he considered the people in Times Square to be innocent, he said they had elected the U.S. government.
"Even children?" said Cedarbaum.
"When the drones [in Pakistan] hit, they don't see children," answered Shahzad. He then said, "I am part of the answer to the U.S. killing the Muslim people."
Shahzad was arrested on May 3, two days after the failed bombing, at New York's JFK airport as he was about to depart on a Dubai-bound flight.
A federal grand jury indicted Shahzad on Thursday on 10 terror-related charges, double the number of criminal counts he originally faced. The new counts included a weapons charge and four new terror charges.
The 13-page indictment also included new details about Shahzad's travels to Pakistan, and names the Pakistani terror group, Tehrik-e-Taliban, from which Shahzad allegedly received bomb training. The indictment also says that Shahzad received money from an unnamed coconspirator in Pakistan prior to the failed May 1 car bombing in midtown Manhattan.
Shahzad Trained in Waziristan, Pakistan
"The facts alleged in this indictment show that the Pakistani Taliban facilitated Faisal Shahzad's attempted attack on American soil," said Attorney General Eric Holder. "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."
The indictment alleged that Shahzad received explosives training in Waziristan, Pakistan from "explosives trainers affiliated with Tehrik-e-Taliban." It accused Shahzad of receiving $5,000 in Massachusetts sent by a coconspirator in Pakistan in February, and another $10,000 from the same coconspirator via New York. According to the indictment, Shahzad purchased a rifle in Connecticut in March that was found loaded in his car on the day of his arrest.
"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 Monday. "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."
"The NYPD, FBI, and federal prosecutors deserve enormous credit for cracking – and closing – the Faisal Shahzad case so quickly," said New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg. " But we know that our city remains a top target for terrorists, and we will continue doing everything possible to keep our city safe."