Seized from a plane about to fly to the Middle East, a Pakistan-born U.S. citizen has admitted training to make bombs at a terrorism camp in his native land before he rigged an SUV with a homemade device to explode in Times Square, authorities said Tuesday.
Connecticut resident Faisal Shahzad was charged Tuesday afternoon with terrorism and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction in the botched bombing of the Crossroads of the World .
"He is admitting it freely," Police Commissioner Ray Kelly told the Today show this morning as investigators continue to question Shahzad about the plot and his terror training in Pakistan.
"Based on what we know so far, it is clear that this was a terrorist plot aimed at murdering Americans in one of the busiest places in our country," Attorney General Eric Holder said in Washington. “Although this car bomb failed to detonate, this plot was a very serious attempt."
The son of an air force officer in a wealthy Pakistani family, Shahzad was to appear in Manhattan federal Tuesday to be arraigned on formal charges, but the hearing was postponed -- because he was said to be cooperating with authorities. (Read the full complaint against Faisal Shahzad.)
According to the complaint, Shahzad confessed to buying an SUV, rigging it with a homemade bomb and driving it Saturday night into Times Square, where he tried to detonate it.
Shahzad admitted to receiving bomb-making training in Waziristan, the lawless tribal region where the Pakistani Taliban operates with near impunity, but there is no mention of al-Qaida in the complaint filed in Manhattan federal court. The complaint said he returned from Pakistan in February, telling an immigration agent that he had been visiting his parents for five months and had left his wife behind.
In Pakistan, intelligence officials said several people had been detained in connection with the Times Square case. But a law enforcement official briefed on the investigation told The Associated Press the FBI is not aware of any arrests in Pakistan related to the case.
Only moments before leaving the country, Shahzad was pulled off a plane to Dubai by Customs and Border Patrol agents shortly before midnight Tuesday at Terminal 4 of JFK airport.
Officials had ordered the flight to return to the gate where Shahzad and a friend were removed, law enforcement sources said. Shahzad was taken into custody; the friend has been released.
Shahzad had been let on the plane despite being on the federal "no fly" list, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said.
Sources say there was a 9mm gun found in Shahzad's car that was found parked in a lot at the airport.
Shahzad is a naturalized U.S. citizen who recently returned from a five-month trip to Pakistan, where he has a wife, law enforcement officials said.
President Obama said today that authorities are investigating the suspect's possible connection to terrorist groups, and he thanked "ordinary citizens" for remaining vigilant and commended local, state and federal law enforcement for a seamless response.
He said the attack was "another sobering reminder of the time in which we live."
"New Yorkers have reminded us again how to live with heads held high," President Obama said.
Investigators hadn't established an immediate connection to the Pakistani Taliban — which had claimed responsibility for the botched bombing in three videos — or any foreign terrorist groups, a law enforcement official told the AP.
"He's claimed to have acted alone, but these are things that have to be investigated," the official said.
Late Monday, New York police and FBI agents had narrowed their focus on Shahzad, who recently returned from a trip to Pakistan and three weeks ago bought the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder used in the failed car bomb on Saturday night.
"By my calculations, 53 hours and 20 minutes elapsed from the time Faisal Shahzad crossed Broadway to the time he was apprehended at Kennedy Airport," said NYPD Commissioner Ray Kelly, praising law enforcement's quick actions (watch the video). "We know Jack Bauer can do it in '24,' But in the real world, 53 is not bad."
A Justice Department official says it's doubtful now that Faisal Shahzad will be in court today for his initial appearance.
Other officials tell NBC that as long as he's talkative in the FBI interrogation, they don't want to interrupt that for the court appearance. The federal rules do not impose a specific time requirement for how soon he has to be presented before a judge. They merely say it has to happen "without unnecessary delay."
A Justice Department official said today it's doubtful that Faisal Shahzad will be in court today for his initial appearance.
Other officials tell us that as long as he's talkative in the FBI interrogation, they don't want to interrupt that for the court appearance. The federal rules do not impose a specific time requirement for how soon he has to be presented before a judge. They merely say it has to happen "without unnecessary delay."
One official told NBC the suspect said he was angry over U.S. drone attacks in North Waziristan aimed at killing militants.