Faisal Shahzad Allegedly Admits to Attempted Times Square Bombing

Reuters has the report here:

The Pakistani-American arrested on suspicion of driving a bomb-laden car into New York’s Times Square told U.S. authorities he acted alone, but sceptical investigators are looking into his recent trip to Pakistan, a law enforcement source said on Tuesday.

Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, was arrested late on Monday at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York as he tried to take a flight to Dubai, local and federal officials said.

Shahzad, 30, was due to appear in federal court later on Tuesday to face charges of “driving a car bomb into Times Square on the evening of May 1,” officials said. Had the bomb detonated, many people could have died, experts said.

“He’s admitted to buying the truck, putting the devices together, putting them in the truck, leaving the truck there and leaving the scene,” the law enforcement source told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

“He’s claimed to have acted alone. He did admit to all the charges, so to speak,” the source said, adding that investigators were still looking into his activities during a recent trip to Pakistan.

It’s particularly interesting to me to see how Shahzad was identified as a suspect, at least if initial press reports are accurate. According to reports, Shahzad bought a Nissan Pathfinder off Craigslist for cash, and then filed off the VIN number that is visible through the windshield. He then drove the Nissan to Times Square and tried to ignite explosives inside it. When the explosives didn’t go off, investigators were able to trace the car to Shahzad because he didn’t realize that the VIN number also appears elsewhere on the car — in this case, on the engine block. The VIN number then led investigators to the registered owner of the car who had sold the car to Shahzad. Cell phone records revealing the pre-purchase calls between the prior owner and Shazad revealed Shahzad’s cell phone number, and his cell phone number led the police to learn Shahzad’s identity.

That’s what seems to be the case so far, at least. Press reports filed this early often have inaccuracies, so we’ll have to watch and see how the picture develops.

UPDATE: This story suggests that the cell phone was a disposable phone, but that the government had some sort of database which allowed them to connect the phone (somehow) to Shahzad. I suspect we’ll be hearing more about this soon.

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