WNYC's Bob Hennelly is an award-winning investigative journalist. While at WNYC he has reported on a wide gamut of major public policy questions ranging from immigration and homeland security to power outages and utility mergers.
Man Tied to Pakistan Arrested in SUV Bomb Case
Tuesday, May 04, 2010
New York, NY –
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have arrested a suspect in this weekend's failed car bombing in Times Square. Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan, was taken into custody at JFK International Airport around midnight as he was preparing to fly out of the U.S., bound for Dubai, according to Attorney General Eric Holder.
Shahzad is a resident of Connecticut and will have his initial federal court appearance tomorrow. He is alleged to have bought the Nissan Pathfinder used in the Times Square bombing attempt for $1,800 in cash last month.
Law enforcement sources says Shazad had visited Pakistan in June of 2009.
The key break in the case came when the NYPD was able to retrieve the vehicile identification number for the Pathfinder and locate the last owner of record, which in turn helped them find Shahzad.
Holder said the investigation was ongoing and multi-faceted.
In addition to searching for the buyer, police have zeroed in on video from 12 security cameras out of the hundreds in place in Times Square. So far, police say they've gotten 120 calls from citizens offering tips about Saturday night. Three of them merited follow-up. New York police and federal officials are working on the case collaboratively through the Federal Joint Terrorism Task Force. Federal officials would handle any prosecution in the case.
Police had publicly released a security video Sunday night that showed a white man apparently in his 40s changing his shirt on Shubert Alley around the time of the discovery of the abandoned SUV. Authorities describe him merely as a person of interest. Much to the consternation of investigators, several media outlets erroneously referred to the mystery man seen in that video as a suspect in the high-profile case.
The car left in Times Square was registered in Connecticut, where the owner on record was questioned Sunday night. The vehicle identification number had been removed from the car's dashboard, but it was still on the Pathfinder's engine. "The discovery of the VIN on the engine block was pivotal in that it led to identifying the registered owner," Browne told WNYC.
One major open question is just how a Connecticut license plate that belongs to a vehicle that was being worked in a Stratford, Conn. junkyard came to be affixed to the Pathfinder.
The White House on Monday characterized the attempted car bombing as a terrorist act.
"That was intended to terrorize, absolutely, and I would say whoever did that would be characterized a terrorist, yes," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said.
The NYPD has said the homemade bomb found in the back of the Pathfinder on West 45th Street was large enough to kill several hundred people and shatter windows in a two to three block area.
While the investigation continues, Times Square is back to being the Center of the Universe, filled with people -- and a plenty of extra police officers.This afternoon, Attorney General Eric Holder will provide an update on the investigation into the attempted bombing in Times Square.
Among those officials joining Holder at the briefing will be Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano and New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.
WNYC.org will provide a live stream of the news conference.
For related stories on the Times Square Terror Plot, click here.