Days after the botched Times Square terror plot, Mayor Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told Washington officials that New York needs stricter national gun laws and increased terror funding to keep the city safe.
Kelly also noted that the man accused of driving a bomb-laden SUV into Times Square, Faisal Shahzad, purchased a gun this spring. He got the firearm just weeks after he returned to America from a trip in Pakistan, where he reportedly attended a terror training camp and witnessed drone attacks against the Taliban, which are said to have played a role in his radicalization.
"We know that [Shahzad] purchased a weapon in Connecticut n March and that he has that weapon with him in a car as he drove to JFK airport Monday night," Kelly told the Senate panel. "It appears from some of his other activity that March is when he decided to put his plan in motion….It may very well be an indicator of putting something more catastrophic in motion."
In Connecticut, Shelton Police Chief Joel Hurliman said Shahzad had passed a criminal background check and legally bought a gun from a dealer in his former hometown. Hurliman said the owner of Valley Firearms confirmed Shahzad bought a Kel-Tec rifle and passed a 14-day waiting period.
Mayor Bloomberg and Commissioner Kelly were already scheduled to testify this morning at a U.S. Senate hearing on guns before Saturday's failed Times Square bomb plot, but the hearing took on new urgency and a new focus following the failed attack.
During the hearing, the mayor testified the New York City has been the focus or 20 terror plots or attacks since 1990, the latest being Saturday's smoldering SUV bomb plot.
Before heading to Washington, Bloomberg spent the morning with members of the NYPD bomb squad and he said he would broaden his testimony on guns to include an appeal for more terror funding. The mayor said New York is the symbol of America "where terrorists come and we need to have homeland security funds."
A suspect, Faisal Shahzad, was charged Tuesday with trying to blow up a crude device inside a parked SUV amid tourists and Broadway theatergoers.
He fled to the airport Monday from Connecticut after becoming spooked by news reports that authorities were seeking to arrest a man of Pakistani descent in Connecticut, two people familiar with the probe told The Associated Press Tuesday
Asked about lessons learned from the failed bombing attempt, Bloomberg said that preparation for such an incident paid off: Street vendors were vigilant and responders reacted according to their training.