Life term for Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad (Second Lead)By Arun Kumar, IANS
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
NEW YORK - Pakistan-born American Faisal Shahzad, who tried to detonate a car bomb in New York’s Times Square at the behest of the Taliban in Pakistan, has been sentenced to life in prison.
A judge in Manhattan federal court Tuesday gave a mandatory life prison term to Shahzad, 31, who was arrested two days after his May 1 attempted bombing with an improvised bomb packed into the back of an SUV.
“The defeat of the US is imminent,” said a defiant Shahzad who had pleaded guilty in June to 10 counts including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, conspiracy and attempt to commit international terrorism.
“The past nine years, the war with Muslims has achieved nothing for the US except it has awakened Muslims,” said Shahzad, a former budget analyst from Connecticut.
Asked by US District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum Tuesday if he hadn’t taken an oath to the US in becoming a citizen, Shahzad answered: “I did swear, but I did not mean it.”
Prosecutors argued Shahzad deserved a life prison term because his crime was premeditated and because he exploited the benefits of his citizenship to join a foreign terrorist organization intent on attacking the US.
According to prosecution documents filed in federal court last Wednesday Shahzad carefully selected his location as a highly populated target and intended to strike again if he wasn’t caught the first time.
The bomb failed to detonate and he was arrested two days later while trying to leave the country on a flight from New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport bound for Pakistan.
In a sentencing memo, prosecutors painted a picture of a young man determined to target Americans on a large scale, saying, Shahzad used webcams accessible on the internet “as part of his effort to maximize the deadly effect of his bomb”.
The memo says Shahzad found webcams online and studied the real-time video feeds of different areas in Times Square to determine when and where he could inflict the most damage.
Prosecutors said Shahzad “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”.
Federal prosecutors also contended in the sentencing memo that Shahzad believed the bomb would kill about 40 people and that he “was prepared to conduct additional attacks until he was captured or killed”.
Prosecutors said Shahzad spent 40 days, beginning in December 2009, in the tribal region that straddles Pakistan and Afghanistan, where he lived with members of the Pakistani Taliban, or TTP.
According to the court documents, he worked with an experienced bomb trainer affiliated with the TTP for five days. In addition, Shahzad was given $5,000 to help fund the mission and agreed to appear in a TTP video glorifying the planned attack.
The roughly 40-minute video, according to its description in the memo, features Shahzad quoting from the Quran while the other side of the screen is filled with images of Times Square after the botched bombing.
Toward the end of the video, the memo quotes Shahzad as saying: “I have been trying to join my brothers in jihad every day since 9/11 happened. I am planning to wage an attack inside America.”
(Arun Kumar can be contacted at email@example.com)