Defiant Times Square bomb suspect pleads guilty

  • Mon Jun 21st, 2010 10:36pm
  • News

Los Angeles Times

NEW YORK — A Pakistani-born U.S. citizen charged with planting a car bomb in Times Square pleaded guilty in court Monday, saying he was a “Muslim soldier” who for months plotted the attack.

In a calm but defiant tone, Faisal Shahzad, 30, pleaded guilty to all 10 charges stemming from the May 1 plot and warned that it was one small part of a “war” being waged by Muslims against Americans. As long as U.S. forces remain active in Iraq, Afghanistan and other Muslim countries, “we will be attacking” the United States, he told U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum.

Shahzad is expected to be sentenced in October and faces life in prison.

Shahzad was granted U.S. citizenship in April 2009, months before he traveled to Pakistan on a quest to gain entry to the Pakistani Taliban. He underwent training last December and in January.

Cedarbaum asked if he understood that his actions violated U.S. law.

“I would not consider it a crime,” he said.

Shahzad has said he built the bomb alone and carried out the attack himself. In her questioning Monday, the judge appeared to find it hard to believe that Shahzad could have worked alone, asking him repeatedly if he had any help within the United States. Shahzad insisted he had not, although he acknowledged receiving $12,000 from the Pakistani Taliban.

On May 1, Shahzad said, he built a bomb in his apartment in Bridgeport, Conn., loaded it into the back of his Nissan Pathfinder, parked the vehicle on a crowded corner, walked away and waited for a boom. He said he chose a Saturday evening in Times Square to inflict the most damage possible.

The bomb was supposed to go off within 2½ to 5 minutes.

“I was waiting to hear a sound, but I didn’t hear any sound,” Shahzad said.

In building the Times Square bomb, Shahzad said, he used fertilizer, gas cans and cylinders in hopes that if one element failed to detonate, another would. None went off, and Times Square vendors alerted police after noticing the suspiciously parked SUV and seeing smoke coming from it.

When he realized the bomb had not detonated, Shahzad walked to Grand Central Terminal, caught a train home, watched the news of the incident, and began planning his escape, he said.

Shahzad was arrested two days later aboard a jet scheduled to leave for the Middle East.