Times Square bomber pleads guilty to all charges

Faisal Shahzad warns court that jihadist attacks against the United States will continue.

Powered by automated translation

NEW YORK // Describing himself as a "Muslim soldier", the Pakistani-born American behind a botched car bomb raid warned a Manhattan courtroom that fellow jihadists would continue to attack the United States. Faisal Shahzad, 30, admitted travelling to Pakistan to receive bomb-making training from the Pakistani Taliban, called Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, and receiving US$12,000 (Dh44,076) from the extremist group to carry out the failed plot on May 1.

"I want to plead guilty, and I'm going to plead guilty 100 times over," he said, "because until the hour the US pulls its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan, and stops the occupation of Muslim lands, and stops killing the Muslims, and stops reporting the Muslims to its government, we will be attacking US, and I plead guilty to that." Shahzad, who has a wife and two children living in Pakistan, admitted 10 charges on Monday, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted terrorism transcending national borders. He faces mandatory life in prison after pleading guilty and is due to be sentenced on October 5.

Wearing a white prayer cap and handcuffed, Shahzad, who became a US citizen last year, told the packed-out Federal District Court in Manhattan that his intention was to cause "damage to the building, injure the people or kill the people". "One has to understand where I'm coming from," Shahzad said in a lengthy address, which was frequently interrupted by questions from US District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum. "I consider myself a Mujahid, a Muslim-soldier." Shahzad parked an SUV in Times Square with its engine running and hazard lights flashing on a balmy Saturday evening last month. "I ignited the fuses and I gave the time of 2.5 to 5 minutes and I left the car ? I was waiting to hear a sound," he said. But street vendors alerted police to the smoking vehicle within minutes and thousands of people were evacuated from the bustling theatre district. Bomb specialists defused the crude device, which included firecrackers and propane gas tanks. The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the failed bombing, but Shahzad said he worked alone in the US and the militants did not tell him how or what to attack. "I got the cash, I worked on it, I made the bomb, and I drove it to Times Square," he said.

After parking the vehicle in Times Square, Shahzad said he walked to Grand Central station and took a train back to Connecticut, carrying a 9mm rifle in a laptop case that he said was for self-defence, "just in case I was attacked, I was captured". The son of a retired Pakistani vice air marshal was arrested aboard a Dubai-bound jetliner at New York's John F Kennedy International Airport two days after the attempted attack. He had been on his way back to Pakistan. He had returned to the US earlier this year after spending several months in Pakistan. @Email:jreinl@thenational.ae