Faisal Shahzad, 30, a Muslim from Pakistan who was recently naturalized as a U.S. citizen, was arrested late Monday night by Customs and Border Protection agents at JFK airport as he attempted to flee the U.S. to his native Pakistan via Dubai.
Shahzad was placed on the “do-not-fly” list earlier Monday based on information developed during the course of the investigation into the attempted vehicle bombing in Time Square. He was identified as the individual who drove the vehicle into Times Square.
Authorities are currently investigating Shahzad’s U.S. support network in the New York area, including other possible suspects who have not yet been publicly identified.
According to information provided to this author by New York authorities, Shahzad lives in Shelton, Connecticut. He became naturalized in April 2009 shortly before traveling back to Pakistan for a five-month period. Shahzad is married and reportedly maintains a wife in Pakistan. His activities while in Pakistan allegedly include meetings with at least one Pakistani based Muslim terrorist organization and time spent at terror training camps, based on information provided to this author.
Also according to information provided by a New York official, investigators are looking into Shahzad’s U.S. contacts as the probe into Saturday’s bombing attempt widens. “There is no doubt that this was an Islamic inspired, sanctioned and funded attempted terror attack against the citizens of the U.S.,” stated the New York official on the strict condition of anonymity. “There is a concern that more attacks are being planned by individuals in the U.S.as well as in other countries, especially Pakistan,” added this source.
Investigators initially identified Shahzad through the purchase of the Nissan Pathfinder used in the bombing attempt. Investigators also gathered information about Shahzad and other likely suspects from a video message uploaded 24 hours before the attempted attack by a group known as Tehreek-e-Taliban, different from the Pakistani group who originally claimed responsibility for the act. The video featured Qari Hussein Mehsud, the Pakistani Taliban leader and bomb trainer referencing the Times Square attack and promises for additional terrorist attacks inside the U.S.
That video was then followed by the release of two additional video messages from Hakeemullah Mehsud, the head of the Taliban in Pakistan believed to have been killed in a U.S. missile strike in North Waziristan last January. Although it is important to note the distinction between the messages and the groups, it is interesting to note that all of the videos were posted on the Internet by the Tehreek-e-Taliban, also known as the “Pakistan News Channel.” Additionally, investigation revealed that the messages were recorded sometime in early April.
Shahzad will be brought to the Manhattan Federal Courthouse today to be formally charged.