Holder: Bomb Suspect Will Be Charged With Act of Terrorism
Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday that the Pakistani-American suspect behind Saturday’s attempted terrorist attack in New York City’s Times Square has “provided useful information to authorities” and will likely be charged with an act of terrorism transcending national borders.
Holder said during a press conference that Faisal Shahzad “continues to be questioned by federal agents” and has shed light on his role in the attempted attack, even after being read his Miranda rights.
Federal officials arrested Shahzad, 30, late Monday night at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport after finding weapons in a vehicle that he is believed to have driven to the airport. Authorities also found bomb-making materials outside Shahzad’s apartment in Connecticut. Five others were arrested Tuesday in Pakistan in connection with the incident, according to news reports.
Holder said he anticipates charging Shahzad with an act of terrorism transcending national borders, use of weapons of mass destruction and other “assorted explosives charges.”
“This plot was a very serious attempt. If successful, it could have resulted in a very lethal attack, causing death and destruction in the heart of New York City,” Holder said.
The attorney general declined to give details on what information officials have gleaned from Shahzad, although he said the suspect has confirmed that he is connected to the attempted bombing.
Questions remain about how close authorities were to losing Shahzad since he had already gotten past Transportation Security Administration authorities and was aboard a plane that had already left the gate when he was arrested. Holder dismissed the idea that Shahzad, who was put on the no-fly list just hours before his flight left, nearly got away.
“I was never in any fear that we were in any danger of losing him,” Holder said.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, who was also at the press event with Holder, said authorities were able to arrest Shahzad after matching his name to the plane’s passenger manifest — a new layer of screening put into place after the attempted Christmas Day bombing.
Napolitano was evasive when asked if Shahzad would have remained on the plane if the new screening rules hadn’t been put into place.
“In this particular case, some of the new rules were particularly useful in allowing us to arrest him before the plane took off,” she said.
Earlier Tuesday, President Barack Obama called the thwarted attack “another sobering reminder of the times in which we live,” but reassured the public that authorities have all the tools they need to determine whether Shahzad has ties to a terrorist network.
“A suspect is now in custody and is being questioned. The American people can be assured that the FBI and their partners in this process have all the tools and experience they need to learn everything we can. That includes what, if any, connection this individual has to terrorist groups,” Obama said at a Business Council event.
The president praised New Yorkers and authorities for being vigilant and helping to prevent the actions of people “who would slaughter innocent men, women and children in pursuit of their murderous agenda. They will stop at nothing to kill and disrupt our way of life. But once again, an attempted attack has been failed.”