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Faisal Shahzad calls Times Square bomb plot 'war,' pleads guilty

Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-born US citizen accused of attempting to detonate a car bomb in New York's Times Square May 1, defiantly told a New York court he considered himself a 'Muslim soldier.'

By Ron SchererStaff writer / June 21, 2010

Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad enters guilty pleas in a New York court room on Monday, as seen in this court sketch.

Jane Rosenburg/Reuters


New York

Faisal Shahzad, the suspect in the Times Square bomb attempt, pleaded guilty Monday to using weapons of mass destruction – a plea that could mean he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

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Mr. Shahzad’s admission of guilt had been expected. He waived his right to a speedy arraignment, and he gave the US government information about his training and contacts in Waziristan, Pakistan, with explosives experts.

What was not expected was the defiance with which Shahzad defended what he did. Shahzad told US District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum he was a "Muslim soldier" avenging the deaths of Muslims killed by Americans overseas, and that he didn't care that his bomb could have killed children.

"It's a war. I am part of the answer to the US terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people," he said.

Asked whether he was certain he wanted to plead guilty, Shahzad said he wanted to plead guilty 100 times more, and warned that if the United States did not leave Iraq and Afghanistan, "we will be attacking [the] US."

Shahzad was arrested on May 3 after he had boarded a plane that was leaving that night for Dubai. The naturalized US citizen, who was born in Pakistan, admitted that he left a Nissan Pathfinder loaded with improvised explosives and incendiary devices in Times Square.

On May 1, street vendors spotted the smoking vehicle almost immediately and notified the New York Police Department, which cleared the area. After firefighters doused the flames, the search began for whoever had left the vehicle. It was quickly traced to Shahzad.

“In this case, the speed with which they broke the case because of the terrorist overtones was breathtaking,” says Randy Mastro, former deputy mayor under Rudolph Giuliani and now co-chair of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher’s Litigation & Crisis Management Group in New York. “They actually identified him faster than his arrest because they wanted to track him to figure out if he had any accomplices.”