The FBI has released a video showing the detonation of a prototype of the failed car bomb set off in Times Square in May, and had the device been made correctly, its end result would have been "devastating," officials said Tuesday.
Faisal Shahzad, who has admitted to planting the car bomb in a parked SUV on May 1, told investigators that he believed the car bomb would have killed about 40 people.
In the video released by the FBI, the Bureau's Operational Technology Division sets up tests in a field in Osceola Mills, Pennsylvania on June 29, 2010. The explosive tests involve a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder stuffed with 250 pounds of ammonium nitrate and diesel fuel, along with three 25-pound propane tanks and two 5-gallon gasoline containers.
Taken from various cameras, and even shown slow motion, the FBI video reveals that the explosion would have been quite large -- almost certainly enough to kill scores of people in crowded Times Square.
In a memorandum urging a federal judge to sentence Shahzad to life in prison, prosecutors say Faisal Shahzad told the FBI had he been successful, he planned to build and set off another car bomb somewhere in New York City two weeks later.
"While it is impossible to calculate precisely the impact of Shahzad's bomb had it detonated, the controlled detonation... demonstrated that those effects would be devastating to the surrounding area," the sentencing document said.
Shahzad is set to be sentenced next week.
The government says Shahzad left the United States in 2009 for the explicit purpose of learning to build a bomb and attack the US. While there, he made a video which was released by the Taliban in July of this year. On it, Shahzad says, "I have been trying to join my brothers in jihad since 9/11 happened. I am planning to wage an attack inside America."
"Shahzad used the Internet to access websites that provided real time video feeds of different areas of Times Square," prosecutors said in today's court filing. "According to Shahzad, he wanted to select the busiest time for pedestrian traffic in Times Square because pedestrians walking on the streets would be easier to kill and to injure than people driving in cars."
Shahzad was arrested two days after his May 1 attempted bombing fizzled in a Times Square packed with tourists. The bomb he had packed into the back of a sports utility vehicle sputtered and did not explode.
The former U.S.-educated financial analyst pleaded guilty after confessing to investigators who plucked him off a plane as it was about the leave the United States.