The FBI arrested the 30-year-old man who bought the Nissan Pathfinder that almost exploded in Times Square on Saturday just as he was about to leave the US. Faisal Shahzad, who had just come back from a five-month trip to Pakistan, had intended to flee to Dubai. Instead, his incompetence has him in federal custody:
The FBI has arrested a 30-year-old Bridgeport, Conn., man in connection with the failed attempt to set off a car bomb in New York’s Times Square, federal authorities told ABCNews.com late Monday night.
The man was identified as Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized American citizen, who had recently returned from a five-month trip to Pakistan and the city of Peshawar, a known jumping off point for al Qaeda and Taliban recruits.
Shahzad was arrested at John F. Kennedy Airport in New York City where FBI agents said he was attempting to leave the country to go to Dubai.
From Dubai, Shahzad could have disappeared anywhere in the world. Thanks to a botched bomb design, though, the US already knew his name and have leads on his accomplices. ABC reports that three people close to Shahzad are under investigation for any part they may have played in this plot. And while Janet Napolitano continues to downplay the possibility that the Taliban backed this plot, evidence of overseas involvement continues to surface:
Authorities said a clue in the investigation was a video posted online early Sunday morning by persons in Connecticut, who may have been involved in the bomb attempt. The video, posted on a site registered one day before the attack, has the Taliban in Pakistan claiming responsibility for the attempted bombing.
Connecticut was where Shahzad was living at the time. He drove the car to New York City, just after tinting the windows of the Pathfinder, from Connecticut. The license plate on the car was stolen from a repair shop in Connecticut. That would be a big coincidence — or, alternatively, the plotters would have to somehow know that Hakimullah Mehsud was still alive and convince him to make a video for them without him having any involvement in the plot. Possible? Perhaps, but it’s getting less likely by the day.
Update: I’m a little struck by the parallels to the first World Trade Center bombing. In that case, the bomb worked but was poorly designed for the purpose of destroying the building. The vehicle used was easily traced back to the terrorists, too, although in that case by the VIN on an axle and rental-company receipts. They don’t seem to learn much from their failures.
Update II: Does anyone else see the hand of the NSA in this?
The number from a disposable cellphone led FBI agents to the suspect arrested Monday night for allegedly driving a car bomb into Times Square on Saturday evening, according to a senior official.
“They were able to basically get one phone number and by running it through a number of databases, figure out who they thought the guy was,” the official said. …
The suspect didn’t still have the phone. But using a lot of technology and access to database, agents located the suspect. Appearing in person in the Justice Department briefing room at 1:30 a.m., Attorney General Eric Holder said the suspect, a Pakistan-born American named Faisal Shahzad, 30, was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport while attempting to board a flight for Dubai.
“Using a lot of technology and access to database[s]” … hmm, who would have that kind of access? (via the Boss Emeritus)