A Pakistani-born U.S. citizen has pleaded guilty to attempting to blow up a car in Times Square in a terrorist plot aimed at killing civilians in the busy theater district.
Faisal Shahzad pleaded guilty Tuesday to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and to nine other terror-related counts, some of which carry a mandatory life sentence.
Wearing an orange t-shirt, a white cap, and grey prison-issued pants, Shahzad told the court that he wants to "plead guilty and 100 times more." Speaking clearly and deliberately, he warned that unless the U.S. leaves Muslim lands, "We will be attacking U.S.''
His comments came after District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum began asking him a lengthy series of questions to ensure he understood his rights.
Cedarbaum asked Shahzad if he understood he might spend the rest of his life in prison. He said "yes."
Shazhad spoke to the court about being at "war" with the United States. Cedarbaum asked if that included 'the people walking in Times Square that night?"
Shahzad responded, "Well, the people select the government." The judge asked "even the children?"
"When the drone hits....They don't see children they kill everything, Shahzad said.
"I'm part of the answer to the US terrorizing the Muslim nations. I am an avenger of the attacks," he said.
Sentencing is set for October 5th.
Shahzad was indicted Thursday on terrorism charges by a federal grand jury in New York. The indictment states there are now definite links between Shahzad and a Pakistani terror group who trained him and provided him with $12,000 in cash to carry out the failed attack.
Officials have said Shahzad has confessed and detailed his alleged role in a plot that fizzled when a gasoline-and-propane bomb failed to ignite in an SUV parked near a Broadway theater May 1. The Bridgeport, Conn., resident was arrested two days later.
He told the court that he had received bomb training in Pakistan and said he built the car bomb in three sections in case one didn't work. He expected them to go off in between 2.5 minutes and 5 minutes, "But it seems like none of them went off and I don't know the reason why," he said.
The judge asked Shahzad if he understood that he was committing a crime that night. Shahzad said "I would not consider it a crime."
"Are you aware you broke U.S. laws?" "I am aware that it is a violation of the criminal laws of the united states, but I don't care for the criminal laws of the United States."
In addition to the terror counts, prosecutors added new weapons charges against Shahzad this week. The night he was arrested, a semi-automatic rifle he allegedly bought back on March 15 in Connecticut was left behind in a second vehicle. He told the court he had carried the gun back to Conn. with him the night of the failed plot, hiding it in his laptop case while he rode the MetroNorth home.
Investigators have said it appears Shahzad acted alone inside the United States although it is believed he received some terror training and support from extremists linked to the Pakistan Taliban.
"The facts alleged in this indictment show the Pakistan Taliban facilitated Faisal Shahzad's attempted attack on American soil," said Attorney General Eric Holder.
Prosecutors said Shahzad did receive explosives training from terrorists linked to Tehrik-e-Taliban. And on February 25, a member of the believed to be part of that terrorist group allegedly wired him $5,000 dollars to Massachusetts for use in carrying out the plot. Weeks later, on April 10, court papers said Shahzad recieved $7,000 more dollars wired to Ronkonkoma, Long Island.
The 10 counts charged are:
- Count 1 – Attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, life in prison.
- Count 2 – Conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, life in prison.
- Count 3 – Possession of a firearm during and in relation to a conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, life in prison.
- Count 4 – Attempted act of terrorism transcending national boundaries, life in prison.
- Count 5 – Conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries, life in prison.
- Count 6 – Attempted use of a destructive device during and in relation to a conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries, life in prison.
- Count 7 – Transportation of an explosive, 10 years in prison.
- Count 8 – Conspiracy to transport an explosive, 10 years in prison.
- Count 9 – Attempted destruction of property by fire and explosive, 20 years in prison.
- Count 10 – Conspiracy to destroy property by fire and explosive, 20 years in prison
U.S. attorney Preet Bharara said of last week's indictment,"Today’s ten-count indictment returned in the Southern District of New York charges Faisal Shahzad with conspiring with the Pakistani Taliban to wreak death and destruction in Times Square."
Police Commissioner Ray Kelly reminded New Yorkers to be vigilant given the ongoing terror threat to the city. New York FBI director George Venizelos said Shahzad was set to carry out a "horrendous crime" and vowed the FBI will work with the NYPD around the clock to protect the city.
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Jonathan Dienst has more on News 4 NY at 6 and 11 pm.