Times Square car bomb suspect appears in N.Y. court

U.S. attorney: Suspect "has provided valuable intelligence"

By Colleen Long - Tom Hays

Published May 18, 2010 9:43PM (EDT)

A Pakistani-American man accused of driving a homemade car bomb into Times Square appeared in a court Tuesday for the first time since his arrest two weeks ago.

Faisal Shahzad, of Bridgeport, Conn., was arrested May 3 on a Dubai-bound plane at John F. Kennedy International Airport on charges he drove an SUV rigged with a homemade car bomb into Times Square two nights earlier, sending thousands of tourists into a panic on a busy Saturday night. The bomb didn't explode, and no one was hurt.

Authorities said he had waived his rights to an initial court appearance while he cooperated with authorities. An initial appearance in court typically happens within a day or two of a suspect's arrest.

Shahzad appeared in court wearing gray pants and a shirt and looked calm. He didn't speak right away.

The U.S. attorney's office said Tuesday Shahzad is charged with attempted use of weapons of mass destruction and attempting acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, each carrying a maximum life term.

He's charged with using a destructive device in an attempted violent crime, punishable by up to 30 years in prison; transporting and receiving explosives, punishable by up to 10 years; and attempting to damage and destroy property with fire and explosives, punishable by up to five years.

Since his arrest, Shahzad "has provided valuable intelligence from which further investigative action has been taken," the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan said in a statement Tuesday.

Authorities said shortly after Shahzad's arrest that the ex-budget analyst had admitted driving the SUV bomb into Times Square and told authorities he had received terror training during a recent five-month trip to Pakistan.

"The investigation into the attempted Times Square bombing continues," the U.S. attorney's office said.

Federal authorities raided locations in three states last week and picked up on immigration violations three men who are suspected of providing money to Shahzad to help build the homemade bomb of fireworks, propane and battery-operated alarm clocks. Officials in Pakistan have taken several people into custody, including two men arrested last week on suspicion of helping finance the failed plot.

New York attorney Ron Kuby, in a letter to the chief U.S. District Court judge in Manhattan, accused authorities of violating Shahzad's rights by "squeezing him for information" in secret.

Kuby doesn't represent Shahzad. But in the letter, he argued that federal authorities -- by holding Shahzad for "an unprecedented third week of captivity" -- were violating criminal procedures requiring suspects to be promptly presented in court.

"A suspect buried in the bowels of a Manhattan version of Guantanamo ... is essentially without power to compel the government to comply" with the procedures, he wrote.

Without an appearance, "there is no reason to think the waiver is voluntary," Kuby wrote.

Colleen Long

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Tom Hays


Related Topics ------------------------------------------

Terrorism Times Square Bomb Attempt