Times Square Bomb Suspect Held Without Bail

It was the first court appearance for Faisal Shahzad

Alleged Times Square bomb plotter Faisal Shahzad was arraigned and ordered held without bail in Manhattan federal court this evening.  It  was his first appearance before a judge since being nabbed on May 3.

The accused terrorist was clad in a grey baggy sweatshirt and grey sweatpants as marshals escorted him into the room. Shahzad did not enter a plea -- or speak any public words at all as the judge read him his rights and read aloud the five felony bomb-making and conspiracy charges he faced for attempting to detonate a car bomb in Times Square on May 1. 

He sat at a table, and his attorney, Julia Gatto of the Federal Defenders of NY, whispered to Shahzad. It appeared she was explaining to him how the hearing would go. He nodded several times, appearing attentive and alert.

Shahzad waived his right to a speedy trial, and preliminary hearing was scheduled for June 3. Shahzad answered "yes" when the judge asked him if a financial affidavit submitted to the court was accurate.

Prosecutors and Gatto agreed Shahzad would be held without bail.

"We consent to detention," said Gatto. Before the hearing ended, she asked the judge to make sure the Bureau of Prisons provides Halal meals, consistent with an observant muslim diet. "I will," said Judge Francis.

Shahzad was led out of court after the 10-minute appearance. Gatto did not comment afterward. This was first time Shahzad had appeared in court since he was taken into custody two days after the thwarted bombing.  He was taken to the Metropolitan Correctional Center downtown, officials said. Shahzad's next hearing will be on June 1.

The Pakisani-American had been in law-enforcement custody since his May 3 arrest and has provided valuable intelligence from which further investigative action has been taken, authorities said.

Last week, the FBI raided homes on Long Island, outside of Boston, Mass. and in New Jersey looking for possible money connections to Shahzad. One of three men arrested in the sweep yesterday denied any connection to the primary suspect.

Pakistani Consul General Barry Hoffman said Aftab Khan, a Pakistani gas station attendant who lives in Watertown, Mass., told him during a visit to his jail cell Monday that he does not know Faisal Shahzad and had no contact with him.

"He doesn't have any connection to him," Hoffman said. "He's never spoken to him, doesn't know him."
Hoffman said Khan, 27, came to the United States from his native Pakistan about eight months ago. He described Khan as a "scared young man" who doesn't understand why he was arrested last week.
Khan, his roommate, Pir Khan, 43, and a third man, Mohamad Rahman, of South Portland, Maine, are being held on immigration charges after their arrests Thursday.
Authorities say the men funneled money to Shahzad but may not have known how the money would be used.

Shahzad is charged with one count of attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, one count of attempting acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, one count of use of a destructive device in connection with an attempted crime of violence, one count of transporting and receiving explosives, and one count of attempting to damage and destroy property by means of fire and explosives. If convicted on all counts, he faces life in prison. 

The White House, meanwhile, said today it was dispatching two senior national security aides to Pakistan to press the government there to intensify efforts to investigate the failed bomb plot in Times Square this month and to prevent others like it.

Gen. James L. Jones, the national security adviser, and Leon E. Panetta, the C.I.A. director are the highest-level American visit to Pakistan since the May 1 plot.

A senior administration official said General Jones would not threaten the Pakistani administration, but would convey "the risks to the country’s relationship with the United States if a deadly terrorist attack originated there," the New York Times reported today.

Both intend to press the Pakistani government to take tougher steps against the Taliban and other insurgent groups, U.S officials said.

"In light of the failed Times Square terrorist attack and other terrorist attacks that trace to the border region, we believe that it is time to redouble our efforts with our allies in Pakistan to close this safe haven and create an environment where we and the Pakistani people can lead safe and productive lives," a White House official told the French news agency, AFP.

Meanwhile,  Shahzad had considered targeting several other locations in the city -- including Grand Central and Rockefeller Center -- before deciding to leave an explosives-laden SUV at the "crossroads of the world," law enforcement sources said.

Shahzad admitted to planning the bomb attempt in the busy theater district.  Authorities say the Pakistani-born U.S. citizen has been cooperating with investigators and in the course of discussions admitted that he had thought about other city landmarks, including Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Station and the World Financial Center downtown.  He also said he considered attempting to bomb Connecticut-based defense contractor Sikorsky, sources tell NBCNewYork.  But, officials say no plans were made for any other location other than Times Square.

In the end, Shahzad's bomb plot fizzled and the Connecticut resident was arrested two days later at John F. Kennedy Airport while aboard a plane destined for Dubai.

Shahzad had admitted to receiving terror training in Pakistan, and since the failed plot federal and local law enforcement have been trying to uncover whom else might have been complicit in the plot.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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