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Times Square bomb suspect faces terror charges

Photo by Kristen Ralph

Photo by Kristen Ralph

NEW YORK -- A Pakistani-born U.S. citizen was hauled off a plane about to fly to the Middle East and will face terrorism charges in the failed attempt to explode a bomb-laden SUV in the heart of Times Square, authorities said Tuesday. One official said he claimed to be acting alone.

Faisal Shahzad has admitted his role in the botched bombing attempt and is talking to investigators, providing them with valuable information, Attorney General Eric Holder said.

The investigation stretched to Pakistan, where intelligence officials said several people had been detained in connection with the Times Square case.

Shahzad was on board a Dubai-bound flight that was taxiing away from the gate at Kennedy Airport late Monday when the plane was turned around and federal authorities took him into custody, law enforcement officials said. Federal officials had placed him on a ''no-fly'' list hours before his arrest.

Shahzad, scheduled to appear later Tuesday in federal court in Manhattan, will face terrorism and weapons of mass destruction charges, Holder said.

''Based on what we know so far, it is clear that this was a terrorist plot aimed at murdering Americans in one of the busiest places in our country,'' he added.

The FBI read Shahzad his constitutional rights after he provided information, and he continued to cooperate, FBI Deputy Director John Pistole said.

President Barack Obama said the FBI was investigating possible ties between Shahzad and terrorist groups.

Obama said ''hundreds of lives'' may have been saved Saturday night by the quick action of ordinary citizens and law enforcement authorities who saw the smoking SUV parked in Times Square.

''As Americans and as a nation, we will not be terrorized. We will not cower in fear. We will not be intimidated,'' Obama said.

Shahzad, 30, had recently returned from a five-month trip to Pakistan, where he had a wife, according to law enforcement officials who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation into the failed car bombing.

Shahzad became a naturalized U.S. citizen last year shortly before traveling to Pakistan, a federal law enforcement official in Washington said, speaking on condition of anonymity amid the ongoing investigation.

Investigators hadn't established an immediate connection to the Pakistani Taliban -- which had claimed responsibility for the botched bombing in three videos -- or any foreign terrorist groups, a law enforcement official told the AP.

''He's claimed to have acted alone, but these are things that have to be investigated,'' the official said.

In Washington, Pakistani Embassy spokesman Nadeem Haider Kiani said it's too soon to tell what motivated the bomber. Asked whether there were ties to foreign terrorist groups, Kiani said early indications suggest the bomber was ''a disturbed individual.''

Another law enforcement official said Shahzad was not known to the U.S. intelligence community before the failed bombing attempt, in which authorities found a crude bomb of gasoline, propane and fireworks in a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder parked on a bustling street in Times Square.