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'Smoking car turned into a smoking gun for Shahzad'

By The Rediff News Bureau
May 05, 2010 10:58 IST
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Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American arrested for the failed bombing plot at Times Square, has been charged with the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, acts of terrorism, and other federal crimes for allegedly driving a car bomb into Times Square on May 1. Preet Bharara, United States attorney for the southern district of New York, and other officials on Tuesday announced the charges against Shahzad.

Shahzad, a naturalized US citizen born in Pakistan, was taken into custody at the John F Kennedy International Airport on May 3, after he was identified by the department of homeland security's US customs and border protection, while attempting to leave the United States on an Emirates flight to Dubai.

According to the complaint placed before Magistrate Kevin Fox and other reconstructions, Shahzad contacted Peggy Colas, who sold him her Nissan Pathfinder that she had advertised about on Later, she said he had told her that he wanted to drive around and meet friends in New York.

On April 24, Shahzad met Colas -- who took him to be Middle Eastern or Hispanic -- and bought the vehicle from her in a supermarket parking lot in Connecticut for $1,300 in cash. Shahzad allegedly paid her in $100 bills.

On May 1, 2010, a Pathfinder was discovered, abandoned, on 45th Street in Times Square. Inside 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 three residential keys. It was an Isuzu that Shahzad allegedly drove to the airport.

When Lance Orton, a vendor at Times Square, saw smoke billowing out of the parked vehicle, they alerted Officer Wayne Rhatigan, who moved people away after the contents began smoking and exploding. When emergency services workers arrived on the scene, smoke was still coming out of the windows of the Pathfinder.

The investigation has also 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 after purchasing the Pathfinder.

After his arrest, Shahzad stated that he had recently received bomb-making training in Waziristan, Pakistan. He also admitted that he had brought the Pathfinder to Times Square and tried to detonate it. He allegedly told investigators that his car was parked at the airport and had a gun in it. The investigators discovered a Kel-Tec 9 mm pistol and ammunition in the Isuzu.

Shahzad has been charged with use of weapons of mass destruction, acts of terrorism, use of a destructive device in connection with a crime of violence, transporting and receiving explosives, and destroying property by means of fire and explosives.

"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 bulls-eye on Times Square," Bharara said in a statement, promising not to rest 'until every last terrorist is neutralised and held to account.'

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