Times Square bomb suspect pleads guilty
(AP) - Calling himself a "Muslim soldier," a defiant Pakistan-born U.S. citizen pleaded guilty Monday to carrying outthe failed Times Square car bombing, saying his attack was theanswer to "the U.S. terrorizing ... Muslim people."
Wearing a white skull cap, Faisal Shahzad entered the plea inU.S. District Court in Manhattan just days after a federal grandjury indicted him on 10 terrorism and weapons counts, some of whichcarried mandatory life prison sentences. He pleaded guilty to themall.
"One has to understand where I'm coming from," Shahzad calmlytold U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum, who challengedhim repeatedly with questions such as whether he worried aboutkilling children in Times Square. "I consider myself ... a Muslimsoldier."
The 30-year-old described his effort to set off a bomb in an SUVhe parked in Times Square on May 1, saying he chose the warmSaturday night because it would be crowded with people who he couldinjure or kill.
He revealed that he actually packed his vehicle with threeseparate bombs, hoping to set off a fertilizer-fueled bomb packedin a gun cabinet, a set of propane tanks and gas canisters riggedwith fireworks to explode into a fireball.
Shahzad said he expected the bombs to begin going off after helighted a fuse and waited between 2 1/2 minutes and five minutesfor them to erupt.
"I was waiting to hear a sound but I didn't hear a sound. So Iwalked to Grand Central and went home," he said.
Shahzad dismissed the judge's question about the children bysaying the U.S. didn't care when children were killed in Muslimcountries.
"It's a war. I am part of the answer to the U.S. terrorizingthe Muslim nations and the Muslim people," he said. "On behalf ofthat, I'm revenging the attack. Living in the United States,Americans only care about their people but they don't care aboutthe people elsewhere in the world when they die."
Shahzad made the plea and an accompanying statement as Cedarbaumbegan asking him a lengthy series of questions to ensure heunderstood his rights.
Cedarbaum asked Shahzad if he understood some charges carriedmandatory life sentences and that he might spend the rest of hislife in prison. He said he did.
At one point, she asked him if he was sure he wanted to pleadguilty.
He said he wanted "to plead guilty and 100 times more" to letthe U.S. know that if it did not get out of Iraq and Afghanistan,halt drone attacks and stop meddling in Muslim lands, "we will beattacking U.S."
Sentencing was scheduled for Oct. 5.
The Bridgeport, Conn., resident was arrested trying to leave thecountry May 3, two days after the bomb failed to ignite near aBroadway theater.
Authorities said Shahzad immediately cooperated, delaying hisinitial court appearance for two weeks as he spilled details of aplot meant to sow terror in the world-famous Times Square on a warmSaturday night when it was packed with thousands of potentialvictims.
The bomb apparently sputtered, emitting smoke that attracted theattention of an alert street vendor, who notified police, settingin motion a rapid evacuation of blocks of a city still healing fromthe shock of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attack on the WorldTrade Center.
According to the indictment issued last week, Shahzad received atotal of $12,000 prior to the attack from the Pakistani Talibanthrough cash drop-offs in Massachusetts and Long Island.
Attorney General Eric Holder said the Pakistani Taliban"facilitated Faisal Shahzad's attempted attack on American soil."
Shahzad was accused in the indictment of receiving explosivestraining in Waziristan, Pakistan, during a five-week trip to thatcountry. He returned to the United States in February.
The indictment said he received $5,000 in cash on Feb. 25 from aco-conspirator in Pakistan and $7,000 more on April 10, allegedlysent at the co-conspirator's direction.
Shahzad, born in Pakistan, moved to the United States when hewas 18.
Pakistan has arrested at least 11 people since the attemptedattack. An intelligence official has alleged two of them played arole in the plot. No one has been charged.
Three men in Massachusetts and Maine suspected of supplyingmoney to Shahzad have been detained on immigration charges; one wasrecently transferred to New York.
Federal authorities have said they believe money was channeledthrough an underground money transfer network known as "hawala,"but they have said they doubt anyone in the U.S. who provided moneyknew what it was for.