2010 Times Square car bombing attempt

2010 Times Square car bombing attempt

Coordinates: 40°45′29″N 73°59′09″W / 40.758056°N 73.985768°W / 40.758056; -73.985768

2010 Times Square car bombing attempt

The dark blue Nissan Pathfinder SUV (right) in Times Square,
27 minutes after the attempted attack.
The vehicle's rear hazard lights are on.
Location 1 Astor Plaza, 1515 Broadway, Times Square, New York City, United States
Coordinates 40°45′29″N 73°59′09″W / 40.758056°N 73.985768°W / 40.758056; -73.985768
Date Saturday, May 1, 2010
6:28 p.m. EDT (UTC−04:00)
Attack type Failed car bombing
Death(s) 0
Injured 0
Perpetrator(s) Faisal Shahzad
Perpetrator Pakistani Taliban

The attempted car bombing of Times Square on May 1, 2010, was a planned terrorist attack that was foiled when two street vendors discovered the car bomb and alerted a NYPD Patrolman to the car bomb threat after they spotted smoke coming from a vehicle.[1][2] The bomb had been ignited, but failed to explode, and was disarmed before it caused any casualties.[1][3][4]

Two days later federal agents arrested Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old Pakistan-born resident of Bridgeport, Connecticut, who had become a U.S. citizen in April 2009.[5] He was arrested after he had boarded Emirates Flight 202 to Dubai at John F. Kennedy International Airport.[6][5][7][8][9] The plane was called back again but later cleared. He admitted attempting the car bombing and said that he had trained at a Pakistani terrorist training camp, according to U.S. officials.[10]

United States Attorney General Eric Holder said that Shahzad's intent had been "to kill Americans".[5] Shahzad was charged in federal court in Manhattan on May 4 with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and other federal crimes related to explosives.[5] More than a dozen people were arrested by Pakistani officials in connection with the plot. Shahzad told interrogators that he was "inspired by" Anwar al-Awlaki, with whom he was reportedly in internet contact.[11] An initial claim of responsibility by the Pakistani Taliban was publicly dismissed by U.S. authorities at first; however, Holder later said the Pakistani Taliban directed the attack and may have financed it.[12] John Brennan, President Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, said: "It's a group that is closely allied with al-Qaeda. They train together, they plan together, they plot together. They are almost indistinguishable."[13] President Barack Obama said that Americans "will not cower in fear" as a result of the attempt, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said: "We will not tolerate any bias or any backlash against Muslim New Yorkers",[14] and NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said that to terrorists, "New York is America, and they want to come back to kill us."[14][15][16]

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned of "severe consequences" if an attack like this were to be successful and traced back to Pakistan.[17] The alleged ties to elements of the Pakistani Taliban sharpened the Obama administration's need for retaliatory options including unilateral military strike in Pakistan if a future successful attack was to be traced to Pakistan based militants.[18]

On October 5, 2010, Shahzad was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to a 10-count indictment in June, including charges of conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting an act of terrorism.[19]


Car bombing attempt

The suspect's vehicle, a dark blue 1993 Nissan Pathfinder sport utility vehicle with dark tinted windows, entered Times Square at approximately 6:28 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time on Saturday evening, May 1, 2010, as seen on surveillance video. Two minutes later, two street vendors, T-shirt seller Lance Orton (56) and handbag seller Duane Jackson (58), noticed smoke drifting from vents near the back seat of the unoccupied vehicle, which was parked with its engine running and its hazard lights on.[20][21][22] They also heard firecrackers going off inside.[22]

The street vendors, including Aliou Niasse, who works as a photograph vendor on Times Square, were the first to see the abandoned smoking vehicle and subsequently, the smoking car was brought to the attention of a mounted policeman.[23][24] The vehicle had been parked on a tourist-crowded block at the eastern corner of 1 Astor Plaza (intersection of West 45th Street and Broadway), near the entrance to the Minskoff Theatre which was showing the musical The Lion King.[25][26][27][28][29] The police officer approached the Pathfinder to investigate, and observed the smoke, canisters inside, and the smell of gunpowder.[22] He immediately called for backup, a bomb disposal team, and the FDNY.[30]

An area stretching from 43rd Street to 49th Street on Seventh Avenue, and 45th Street from Seventh Avenue to Eighth Avenue, was quickly evacuated of all vehicle and foot traffic, including Broadway-performance attendees, and was barricaded. Several buildings near the vehicle, including the New York Marriott Marquis hotel, across the street from which the Pathfinder was parked, were also evacuated.[31] While many Broadway theaters had their opening curtains delayed, all shows gave their performances that night.[32]

The vehicle was set ablaze, but did not detonate.[28] Upon arrival, the bomb disposal team used a remote-controlled robotic device to break out a window of the vehicle, and explore its contents.

Justice Department diagram showing positioning of charges in vehicle

The team found in the rear of the vehicle:

  • two travel alarm clocks with batteries that apparently were fashioned as triggering devices, connected by electrical wires to
  • two red full 5-gallon cans of gasoline, sandwiching
  • 40+ consumer-grade M-88 firecrackers inside a 20-ounce metal container (wrapped in duct tape, with its end removed),
  • gunpowder,
  • three full 20-gallon propane tanks, and
  • a 55-inch (1,400 mm) x 32-inch (810 mm) green metal gun locker that contained:
  • a metal pressure cooker pot containing a thicket of wires, that also connected to the alarm clocks;
  • 250 pounds (110 kg) of urea-based fertilizer in 8 plastic bags; and
  • 120 M-88s.[28][33][34][35][22][36]

Investigators believed the car bomb was actually made up of four separate, individual explosive components — in effect, four bombs comprising one large bomb.[37] The firecrackers would have started the process by setting off triggering devices, attached to the gasoline.[37] That would have created an explosion that would then have in turn set off the propane and the fertilizer. A cell phone and wristwatch recovered from the vehicle may have been intended as separate timing/triggering devices. The maker of the "bomb" incorrectly surmised that the urea/sugar mixture fertilizer would work like the ammonium nitrate-based fertilizer which was used in the Oklahoma City bombing.[37]

The improvised explosive device's ignition source malfunctioned, however, and failed to set it off as intended.[3] Had it detonated, NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly said the bomb would have cut the car in half, and "would have caused casualties, a significant fireball."[3][38] Police said the bomb would likely also have sprayed shrapnel, and killed or wounded many people.[28][39]


Shortly after the bomb was discovered, the police looked for a male who was seen on surveillance footage, changing his shirt in Shubert Alley (which runs between 44th and 45th Streets, just west of Broadway) and looking over his shoulder near where the vehicle was parked.[28][35][40][41] By May 4, however, he was no longer of interest to the police.[42] Investigators also looked for another person captured on video running north on Broadway, away from the area.[28]

Officials considered several possibilities in the early stages of the investigation. Police Chief Kelly noted the possibility of lone-wolf terrorism, saying: "A terrorist act doesn't necessarily have to be conducted by an organization, an individual can do it on their own."[40] The police also investigated whether the bomb was planted in response to a depiction of the prophet Muhammad in the episode "200" of the animated sitcom South Park, because the headquarters of Viacom, whose Comedy Central network airs South Park, is near where the car bomb was parked.[43][44] Investigators looked at similarities between the Times Square device and the two devices discovered outside London's Tiger Tiger nightclub in the al-Qaeda failed bombing attempt of 2007.[44][45] NYPD spokesman Paul Brown said, "You can find similarities among different attacks, but there is nothing that we have at this point that has established that link."[46]

Tracking the vehicle

Investigators examined the vehicle, initially at a forensics center in Jamaica, Queens, for fibers, fingerprints, hair, and DNA evidence, and began tracking down where the bomb materials were purchased.[35] Commissioner Kelly said the bomb components were all "locally available materials."[34][40] At least three people other than Shahzad were involved in buying the bomb materials, sources said.[47] The Pathfinder and bomb components were then taken to the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia, for analysis.[35][48]

The vehicle identification number (VIN) plate, which reflects a unique serial number that is used to identify individual motor vehicles, had been removed from the car's dashboard and the door VIN sticker, but police retrieved the VIN from the bottom of its engine block.[35][36][49] That led investigators to the SUV's last registered owner, and to the female college student who sold Shahzad the Pathfinder.[35] Law enforcement officials then recovered Shahzad's pre-paid disposable cell phone's number from the cell phone of the seller, and ran it through a number of databases.[47][50][51][22] They determined that the disposable phone had been used for calls to and from a Pakistani telephone number that they knew was associated with Shahzad.[51] The phone had also been used to call a fireworks store in rural Pennsylvania.[36] They also collected his e-mail address from an email that he had sent to the seller’s computer.[50][52]

Sets of keys left in the Pathfinder included a key to Shahzad's house in Connecticut, and one of his other cars, a black 1998 Isuzu Rodeo.[36][53] Intending to use his Isuzu as a getaway car, he had dropped it off eight blocks from the bomb site before the attack, but he then left the keys to his getaway car in the car bomb, and had to take the train home. He returned for his Isuzu the following day, with a second set of keys.[54]

Times Square after the vehicle fire was extinguished

The Pathfinder's license plates did not match its registration, and had apparently been taken from a Ford F-150 pickup truck awaiting repair at a Stratford, Connecticut, garage. The registered owner of the plates was contacted, and did not appear to be involved in the incident.[3]

E-ZPass and other camera records at toll plazas were reviewed to identify where the vehicle entered Manhattan.[43] Law enforcement officials reviewed security camera footage from 82 city cameras mounted from 34th Street to 51st Street, between Avenue of the Americas and Eighth Avenue, and from business and tourist cameras for additional information.[3][48] After Shahzad's arrest, a surveillance video revealed images of him wearing a white baseball cap, walking in Shubert Alley moments after witnesses noticed the smoking SUV.[55]

Domestic and international ties

An FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force took over the investigation on May 3, as indications of a possible international connection increased.[28] Shahzad has been on a U.S. government travel lookout list since 1999, because he had brought large amounts of cash (approximately $82,500) in increments of about $20,000 into the U.S. between January 1999 and April 2008.[56][57]

Senior Obama administration officials said a flood of international and domestic clues suggested a plot involving more than one person.[28] Investigators uncovered a piece of paper, fingerprints, or possibly both that also indicated international ties, according to a federal official.[28] A review of Shahzad's phone call records revealed that he had received a series of calls from Pakistan directly before and after he purchased the Pathfinder, which raised investigators' concerns that he was acting in concert with people overseas.[50][36] Investigators also examined 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.[28]

According to The Wall Street Journal, Shahzad received bomb-making training from the Pakistani Taliban.[58] On May 6, The New York Times, quoting various American officials, said that evidence was mounting that Shahzad's alleged attempt was tied to the Taliban.[59]

An FBI agent at the scene of the Watertown search

U.S. authorities reportedly identified and were seeking a money courier who helped funnel cash to him from abroad to finance the car bombing.[60] There is no record of him having had a job since returning to the U.S., but he had an $1,150-per-month apartment on which he did not miss a payment, purchased materials estimated to cost $2,000 to build the bomb, paid for the $1,300 car-bomb vehicle in cash, bought an $800 plane ticket in cash, and bought a $400 gun.[61]

On May 13, investigators searched several locations in the northeastern U.S. They detained three Pakistani men. Two, cousins who were living at a house in Watertown, Massachusetts, were Brookline, Massachusetts, gas station attendant Aftab Ali Khan (27 years old at the time, who was set to fly from the U.S. to Pakistan the day he was arrested, and whose visa had expired six months prior) and Boston-area cabdriver Pir Kahn (43 at the time). The two denied knowing Shahzad, but a search of their home yielded an envelope with Shahzad’s surname and phone number among Aftab Ali Khan's belongings in his bedroom, and Shahzad's name and number was also found logged into a cell phone believed to belong to Aftab Ali Khan. The third man detained was a computer programmer living in South Portland, Maine (Mohammad Shafiq Rahman; 33 at the time), who had known Shahzad in the past, lived in Connecticut a few years prior, and came to Maine in approximately 2008.[62][63][64][65] They were detained on immigration, not criminal, charges.[66] The FBI also conducted searches at a gas station in the nearby town of Brookline, in Camden and Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and in Centereach and Shirley, New York, on Long Island.[67][67][68] U.S. Attorney General Holder said there was evidence the men had provided money to Shahzad through an informal money transfer network (known as a hawala), but it was not yet clear if they were aware of the bombing plot.[69][70][71]

Suspect: Faisal Shahzad

Faisal Shahzad's mug shot

Early life, family, work, and naturalization

Faisal Shahzad was born in Pakistan in 1979 to a wealthy, well-educated family.[72][73][74] His father, a former Pakistan Air Force Vice Marshal, is deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan.[75][76] Shahzad attended primary school in Saudi Arabia, and then studied in Pakistan.[77] Arriving in the U.S. in 1999 on an F-1 student visa, he studied at now-defunct Southeastern University, receiving a 2.78 grade point average.[77][74] In 1999 the United States Customs Service placed him on its travel lookout list.[56] He transferred in 2000 to the University of Bridgeport, receiving a B.A. in 2002, and an M.B.A. in 2005.[78] He worked in the accounting department of Elizabeth Arden in Connecticut from 2002 to 2006, leaving for a junior financial analyst job (for an estimated $55–80,000 salary) for Affinion Group in Connecticut until he resigned in June 2009.[61][79][77][79][80] He had been granted a three-year H1-B skilled worker visa in 2002, a green card in 2006, and became a U.S. citizen in April 2009 by his marriage to his wife.[81][82][83] He also has a Karachi identification card, reflecting Pakistani residency.[35]

In 2004, in an arranged marriage, he married Huma Asif Mian, a Colorado-born U.S. citizen who had just graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder.[84][79][81][82][77] She and her Pakistani-born parents had lived in Qatar and Colorado; her parents now live in Saudi Arabia.[76][84] A neighbor recalled Shahzad visited the family only once before she joined him in Connecticut.[79] Shahzad's family lived in a single-family three-bedroom house in Shelton, Connecticut for three years.[73][48][22] He then defaulted on his $200,000 mortgage, and was sued by the bank in September 2009 as it foreclosed on his home.[85]

Prior to the attack

In addition to traveling to Pakistan regularly, "Shahzad has been visiting Middle Eastern countries," according to Minister Malik.[86] Shahzad had traveled to Dubai before, most recently on June 2, 2009, on an Emirates flight.[87] The New York Times reported that in 2009 he asked his father for permission to fight in Afghanistan against American and NATO forces, but his father refused, saying that he disapproved and reminding Shahzad that Islam does not permit a man to abandon his wife or children.[84][88]

On July 3, 2009, he reportedly traveled to Pakistan and is believed to have visited Peshawar, often a gateway for foreign visitors to join up with jihadist groups in the militant-occupied Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA), and stayed there from July 7 to July 22.[87][75] The Center for Strategic and International Studies describes the FATA as: "ground zero in the U.S. Jihadist war, and home to many al-Qaeda operatives, especially the numerous foreigners from the Arab world, Central Asia Muslim areas of the Far East, and even Europe who flock to this war zone for training [and] indoctrination."[89] A senior Administration official said it appears he had an attack in mind when he went there, and he went there seeking help for the attack.[90]

Map of Pakistan and Waziristan

While in Pakistan, he said he trained, including explosives bomb-making training, at a terrorist training camp in Waziristan, according to American officials and the complaint against him.[10][50][91] Waziristan is home to a number of terrorist and militant organizations, and is the main base for al-Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban.[12][73][92] He spent five months in Pakistan, where his wife is now living.[28][93][87] CBS News reported that he may have spent at least four months at the camp.[72] He committed to the car bombing while undergoing training, according to U.S. officials.[94]

Shahzad told interrogators that he met with Pakistani Taliban operatives in North Waziristan in December and January 2009, and later received explosives training from the same operatives, said a senior military official.[88]

After dropping his wife and children off in Saudi Arabia, he returned to the U.S. on February 3, 2010, on an Emirates flight from Dubai.[35][82][87][95] He reportedly bought the ingredients for his bomb slowly over an extended period of time as he had been instructed to in his bomb-making training camp in Pakistan to avoid suspicion.[96]

On March 8, he bought Silver Salute M88 fireworks from a Matamoras, Pennsylvania, fireworks company, according to the company's records and surveillance images.[97] He telephoned the company again on April 25.[97][98]

Kel-Tec 9mm Sub Rifle 2000, the same type purchased by Shahzad

In March, he also purchased a new Kel-Tec 9mm Sub Rifle 2000 (a carbine hybrid of a pistol and a long gun with a folding stock, hand grip, and a rifle barrel) in Connecticut for $400.[47][87][99][100]

Shahzad reportedly drove from his Connecticut home to a Dunkin' Donuts in Ronkonkoma, New York, on Long Island in the days before the failed attack to collect $4,000 in cash, some of which he used to finance his plan.[67][101]

Shahzad is believed to have bought the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder on April 24, a week prior to the attempted bombing. The vehicle had been listed in an online Craigslist ad, and he reportedly bought it from a female Connecticut college student for $1,300 (negotiated down from $1,800), which he paid in $100 bills.[47][50][102][22] He reportedly exchanged the cash for the car at a Connecticut shopping center parking lot, where he inspected the interior and cargo area (but not the engine) and declined the offer of a bill of sale.[48][51][78][103][22] He later had the car windows tinted, which made it harder to peer inside.[78] A surveillance tape from the parking lot shows Shahzad test-driving the car, according to the FBI.[104] He bought a second vehicle through Craigslist (a black Isuzu Rodeo) from a mechanic in Stratford, Connecticut.[96]

Shahzad reportedly watched streaming videos online to determine the day of the week and time that Times Square would be busiest, determining that it would be a Saturday night at 6:30 PM.[96] He picked the following Saturday night at the same time as his alternate time for his car bomb attack.[96]

On April 28, three days before the attempted bombing, he drove the Pathfinder from Connecticut to Times Square, apparently in a dry run to figure out where the best place to leave it later would be, according to an official.[98] A day before the attempted attack he drove a getaway car into mid-Manhattan, dropped it off blocks from his target, and took a train home to Connecticut, a law enforcement official said.[105]

Arrest and follow-up

On May 3, federal authorities identified a person of interest in the attack.[28][93] At 11:45 p.m. EDT, U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested Shahzad at John F. Kennedy International Airport.[5][106] He was detained just moments before his flight, Emirates Flight 202 to Dubai,[107] left the gate.[108][28][35][48][102][109] His destination was Islamabad, Pakistan, and he had paid for his estimated $800 ticket in cash.[61][35][110][9]

After he was arrested, Shahzad directed authorities to his car which he had driven to and parked at the airport, a white Isuzu Trooper.[111][112][113] His Kel-Tec 9 mm Sub Rifle 2000 was inside it, along with five full magazines of ammunition, according to law enforcement officials.[47][87][99][100]

The FBI and NYPD searched Shahzad's Bridgeport, Connecticut, $1,150-a-month two-bedroom apartment (which he had rented since February 15, without ever missing a payment) at Sheridan Street and Boston Avenue on May 4, removing filled plastic bags.[61][35][114][22][79][115] Materials related to the bomb were found in his apartment, including boxes that had contained the alarm clocks.[47][87] Keys that had been found in the Pathfinder opened the door to the home, and in his garage fertilizer and fireworks were found that were similar to those that had been discovered in the car bomb.[51]

Motive and prosecution

"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," Attorney General Holder said.[109] Holder said that Shahzad admitted involvement in the bombing attempt and that it "was a terrorist plot" .[116][117] The Complaint against Shahzad also indicated that he had admitted to receiving bomb-making instruction in Waziristan, that he brought the Pathfinder to Times Square and attempted to detonate it there.[36]

Shahzad reportedly had four other high-profile targets in the New York area he was planning to attack if his first attack had been successful.[96] On his list were Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Terminal, the World Financial Center (just across from Ground Zero) and the Connecticut-based company that manufactures helicopters for the U.S. military, Sikorsky.[96]

CNN reported that Shahzad felt Islam was under attack, according to an official familiar with the investigation.[55] By a year prior to the attack, Shahzad became more introverted, more religious, and more stringent in his views, according to a friend of his from college.[95]

Anwar al-Awlaki, whom Shahzad was reportedly inspired by and in contact with.

Shahzad told interrogators that he was "inspired by" radical Anwar al-Awlaki to take up the cause of al-Qaeda.[118][57] Shahzad was moved to action, at least in part, by al-Awlaki's writings calling for holy war against Western targets as a religious duty, and was a "fan and follower" of al-Awlaki, according to sources.[119][57][120] A U.S. official said that al-Awlaki was a crucial influence on Shahzad, saying: "He listened to him, and he did it."[118] Shahzad made contact over the internet with al-Awlaki, the Pakistani Taliban’s Baitullah Mehsud (who was killed in a drone strike in 2009), and a web of jihadists, ABC News reported.[121][11]

Al-Awlaki is known among other things for having spoken with three of the September 11 hijackers in 2001, for having exchanged dozens of emails with the suspected Fort Hood shooter Nidal Malik Hasan, he is believed to have met with Christmas Day bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab during his training by Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and for militant English-language online lectures and writings with violent rhetoric that have been a catalyst for a number of attacks.[57][88][122] The New York Times described al-Awlaki as "perhaps the most prominent English-speaking advocate of violent jihad against the United States."[88] Al-Awlaki is the first U.S. citizen approved for killing by the CIA under a presidential decree.[88]

On May 4, federal prosecutors charged Shahzad with five counts, including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and trying to kill and maim people within the U.S.[91][36] Two of his felonies carry a maximum of a life sentence if convicted, and two of his other counts carry mandatory minimum terms of 5 and 30 years, which means that if he is convicted of both, he will face at least 35 years in prison.[123]

Federal authorities say Shahzad voluntarily waived his Miranda rights and his right to an initial speedy court appearance, and agreed to answer questions.[64][124] He was interrogated by the recently formed High-Value Interrogation Group.[125] Ron Kuby, who has represented a number of terrorism defendants, said: "My experience with ... Islamists, is they love to talk. Their goal isn't to beat the rap when they're caught. Their goal is either to die as a martyr, or commit mass murder".[124] Ken Wainstein, a former U.S. attorney who headed the Justice Department's anti-terrorism efforts, said that a defendant's cooperation is motivated by "just sheer pride in what he's done."[124] Faisal was arraigned on May 18.[126] He is being held at the Metropolitan Correctional Center in Manhattan.[127] On June 17, a federal grand jury indicted Shahzad on terror charges.[128] Shazad pled guilty to the charges. On October 5, 2010, he was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment without the possibility of parole by a federal judge in New York.[129] He responded to the sentence by saying that "the defeat of the U.S. is imminent."[130] When asked by the judge, "Didn't you swear allegiance to this country?" Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen, replied, "I sweared, but I didn't mean it."[131]

Other arrests

Representative Jane Harman, a California Democrat and Chairman of the House Homeland Security Subcommittee on Intelligence, Information Sharing, and Terrorism Risk Assessment, said Pakistani officials arrested “alleged facilitators” as part of a “far broader investigation.”[16] Pakistani authorities arrested more than a dozen suspects in the investigation of the attempted car bombing, including two or three people at a house in Karachi's Nazimabad district where Shahzad is said to have stayed.[86][116][132]

Pakistani intelligence officials said a man named Tauseef Ahmed, a friend of Shahzad, was detained in Karachi in connection with the case.[109] He had been in touch with Shahzad by email, and is believed to have traveled to the U.S. two months prior to the attack to meet with Shahzad.[72][133] Another man arrested, Muhammad Rehan, an alleged hardcore militant, had spent time with Shahzad during a recent visit to Pakistan and was arrested in Karachi at a mosque known for links to the militant group Jaish-e-Muhammad.[133][134][135] On May 6, Pakistani officials said U.S. law enforcement officers had joined them in questioning four alleged members of an al-Qaeda-linked militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammad, regarding possible links to Shahzad.[136] A Major serving in Pakistan Army & a businessman Salman Ashraf Khan were also arrested.[137]


NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Kelly were in Washington, D.C., to attend the 2010 White House Correspondents' Dinner, but returned immediately to New York after they were informed of the incident. Bloomberg's initial statement was to the effect that it may have been perpetrated by a domestic terrorist, saying to CBS's Katie Couric, "If I had to guess 25 cents, this would be exactly that: homegrown, or maybe a mentally deranged person, or somebody with a political agenda that doesn't like the health care bill or something. It could be anything."[138]

President Barack Obama called the bomb attempt a "sobering reminder of the times in which we live", and said that Americans "will not cower in fear" as a result of it.[15] He telephoned Duane Jackson, one of the vendors, to thank him for alerting police.[139] Attorney General Eric Holder called it a "terrorist act".[28] White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, similarly, said "Anybody that has the type of material that they had in a car in Times Square, I would say that was intended to terrorize, absolutely. And I would say that whoever did that would be categorized as a terrorist, yes."[28][33]

Mayor Bloomberg warned against retribution, saying, "We will not tolerate any bias or any backlash against Muslim New Yorkers."[14] Commissioner Kelly said that to terrorists, "New York is America, and they want to come back to kill us."[16]

Senator Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent and chairman of the Senate Homeland Security Committee, introduced bipartisan legislation under which Americans joining or working with foreign terrorist groups would be stripped of their U.S. citizenship.[140] Identical legislation is being introduced in the United States House of Representatives by Pennsylvania Congressmen, Jason Altmire, a Democrat, and Charlie Dent, a Republican.[141] Lawmakers said that revoking citizenship would block terrorism suspects from using U.S. passports to re-enter the U.S., and make them eligible for prosecution before a military commission instead of a civilian court.[141] The measure, named the Terrorist Expatriation Act, was immediately criticized by Muslim advocacy groups, who said it would unjustly target Muslim Americans and other minority groups. “In my opinion it is xenophobic and unconstitutional and un-American,” said Mahdi Bray, executive director of the Muslim American Society.[142] The bill is an amendment to a 1940 law which stripped citizenship from individuals who joined either Japanese or German armies.[143]

Muslim leaders in the U.S. urged the public to "distinguish between acts of violence and terror and Islam, a religion that they said encourages peace and love", reported The Wall Street Journal .[144]

In Pakistan there was common belief that Shahzad's arrest was a U.S. conspiracy to malign Muslims worldwide, according to the Financial Times.[135]

Some criticism followed partisan lines. S. E. Cupp, for example, wrote there was a culture of political correctness towards Islamic extremism in the White House, juxtaposing it with the administration's more aggressive stance towards Christian militia groups.[145] And former U.S. Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey lamented the leakage of what he termed "intelliporn"—intelligence information that is disclosed by the media because it is "fun to read about", even though it causes harm by disclosing critical information to terrorists.[146] The Arabic newspaper Asharq Al-Awsat carried an editorial praising Obama for not mentioning the word Islam in connection with Shahzad.[147]

Professor Fouad Ajami wrote:

This is a long twilight war, the struggle against radical Islamism. We can't wish it away. No strategy of winning "hearts and minds," no great outreach, will bring this struggle to an end. America can't conciliate these furies. These men of nowhere—Faisal Shahzad, Nidal Malik Hasan, the American-born renegade cleric Anwar Awlaki now holed up in Yemen and their likes—are a deadly breed of combatants in this new kind of war. Modernity both attracts and unsettles them. America is at once the object of their dreams, and the scapegoat onto which they project their deepest malignancies.[148]

In Dubai's Gulf News, a columnist responded to Ajami's column by writing: "What is now needed is for smart police officers in the East and the West to work together to arrest and bring to justice criminals who have little respect for life itself — though we must also try politicians who launched perpetual wars and thinkers who pretended to add value by opining that our civilizations are doomed to clash."[149]

Exactly one year later on that same date Osama Bin Laden was killed by U.S. Navy Seals. Bin Laden was considered on of the worst terrorists in history.

Claims of responsibility

Initially, according to a report by the Associated Press, a Pakistani Taliban group claimed responsibility for an attack against the U.S. in a video posted on YouTube, saying it was revenge for the killing of Baitullah Mehsud and the top leaders of al-Qaida in Iraq — Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri — as well as for general American "interference and terrorism in Muslim Countries, especially in Pakistan." However, "The tape makes no specific reference to the attack; it does not mention that it was a car bomb or that it took place in New York City".[150] According to the New York Times and the New York Daily News, the same group has made far-fetched, false claims for other attacks in the past.[34][43]

On May 6, however, a Pakistani Taliban spokesman said it was not involved with the attempted bombing, but added: "Such attacks are welcome. We have no relation with Faisal. However, he is our Muslim brother. We feel proud of Faisal. He did a brave job."[151] On May 9, The New York Times opined that the retraction may have been prompted by fears that admission of responsibility might result in an attack on the Pakistan Taliban in North Waziristan by the U.S. or Pakistan.[152]

On May 9, however, Holder said "We’ve now developed evidence that shows the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attack," directed the plot, and may have financed it.[12] The Taliban in Pakistan is believed by some military intelligence officials to have joined forces with al-Qaeda.[12] John Brennan, President Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, said: “He was trained by [the Taliban in Pakistan].[12] He received funding from them. He was basically directed here to the United States to carry out this attack." Some military intelligence officials believe the Taliban in Pakistan has joined forces with al-Qaeda.[12] John Brennan, President Obama’s chief counterterrorism adviser, said: "It's a group that is closely allied with al-Qaeda. They train together, they plan together, they plot together. They are almost indistinguishable."[13]

Several other groups claimed responsibility, without any corroborating evidence or verified data.[150]

See also


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