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New York City bomb suspect arrested on plane

NEW YORK (AP) - A U.S. citizen who had recently returned from a
five-month trip to his native Pakistan, where he had a wife, was
arrested at a New York airport on charges that he drove a
bomb-laden SUV meant to cause a fireball in Times Square, federal
authorities said.
Faisal Shahzad was on board a Dubai-bound flight at Kennedy
Airport when FBI agents and New York Police Department detectives
took him into custody late Monday, law enforcement officials said.
One official said he claimed to have acted alone.
U.S. authorities "will not rest until we have brought everyone
responsible to justice," Attorney Eric Holder said early Tuesday,
suggesting additional suspects are being sought.
Shahzad, 30, is a naturalized U.S. citizen and had recently
returned from a five-month trip to Pakistan, where he had a wife,
according to law enforcement officials who spoke to The Associated
Press on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the
investigation into the failed car bombing.
Investigators hadn't established an immediate connection to the
Pakistani Taliban - which had claimed responsibility for the
botched bombing in three videos - or any foreign terrorist groups,
a law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
"He's claimed to have acted alone, but these are things that
have to be investigated," the official said.
Another law enforcement official said Shahzad was not known to
the U.S. intelligence community before the failed bombing attempt.
The U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan was handling the case
and said Shahzad would appear in court Tuesday, but the charges
were not made public. FBI agents searched the home at a known
address for Shahzad in Bridgeport, Conn., early Tuesday, said agent
Kimberly Mertz, who wouldn't answer questions about the search.
Authorities removed filled plastic bags from the house overnight
in a mixed-race, working-class neighborhood of multi-family homes
in Connecticut's largest city. A bomb squad came and went without
entering as local police and FBI agents gathered in the
cordoned-off street.
Shahzad was being held in New York overnight and couldn't be
contacted. A phone number at a listed address for Shahzad in
Shelton, Conn., wasn't in service.
He used to live in a two-story grayish-brown Colonial with a
sloping yard in a working-class neighborhood in Shelton. On Tuesday
morning, the home looked as if it had been unoccupied for a while,
with grass growing in the driveway and bags of garbage lying about.
Neighbors offered diverging descriptions of Shahzad but agreed
that he kept to himself. One, Brenda Thurman, said Shahzad had told
her husband he worked on Wall Street, while another neighbor,
Audrey Sokol, said she thought he worked in nearby Norwalk.
Thurman, 37, said he lived in Shelton with his wife and two
small children until last year.
"He was a little bit strange," she said. "He didn't like to
come out during the day."
Sokol, a teacher who lives next door to Shahzad's old house,
said that he would wave and say hello and that he seemed normal to
her.
Law enforcement officials say Shahzad bought the SUV, a 1993
Nissan Pathfinder, from a Connecticut man about three weeks ago and
paid cash. The officials spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity
because of the sensitive nature of the case.
The vehicle identification number had been removed from the
Pathfinder's dashboard, but it was stamped on the engine, and
investigators used it to find the owner of record, who told them he
had sold the vehicle to a stranger. As the SUV buyer came into
focus, investigators backed off other leads.
The SUV was parked on Saturday night on a busy midtown Manhattan
street near a theater showing "The Lion King." The explosive
device inside it had cheap-looking alarm clocks connected to a
16-ounce can filled with fireworks, which were apparently intended
to detonate gas cans and set propane tanks afire in a chain
reaction "to cause mayhem, to create casualties," police
Commissioner Raymond Kelly said.
A metal rifle cabinet placed in the SUV's cargo area was packed
with fertilizer, but NYPD bomb experts believe it was not a type
volatile enough to explode like the ammonium nitrate grade
fertilizer used in previous terrorist bombings.
Police said the SUV bomb could have produced "a significant
fireball" and sprayed shrapnel with enough force to kill
pedestrians and knock out windows.
A vendor alerted a police officer to the parked SUV, which was
smoking. Times Square, clogged with tourists on a warm evening, was
shut down for 10 hours. A bomb squad dismantled the explosive
device, and no one was hurt.
But Holder said Americans should remain vigilant.
"It's clear," he said, "that the intent behind this terrorist
act was to kill Americans."
Authorities did not address Shahzad's plans in Dubai. The
airport there is the Middle East's busiest and is a major transit
point for passengers traveling between the West and much of Asia,
particularly India and Pakistan.
Dubai-based Emirates airline said three passengers were pulled
from Flight EK202, which was delayed for about seven hours. The
airline did not identify Shahzad by name or identify the other two
passengers.
The aircraft and passengers were then re-screened before taking
off Tuesday morning, and the airline is "cooperating with the
local authorities," Emirates said in a statement e-mailed to the
AP.
In Pakistan, Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the AP that
authorities had not been formally asked for help in the probe but
would cooperate if asked.
More than a dozen people with American citizenship or residency,
like Shahzad, have been accused in the past two years of supporting
or carrying out terrorism attempts on U.S. soil, cases that
illustrate the threat of violent extremism from within the U.S.
Among them are Army Maj. Nidal Hasan, a U.S.-born Army
psychiatrist of Palestinian descent, charged with fatally shooting
13 people last year at Fort Hood, Texas; Najibullah Zazi, a
Denver-area airport shuttle driver who pleaded guilty in February
in a plot to bomb New York subways; and a Pennsylvania woman who
authorities say became radicalized online as "Jihad Jane" and
plotted to kill a Swedish artist whose work offended Muslims.
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Contributing to this report were Associated Press writer Pete
Yost in Washington, AP Video journalist Ted Shaffrey in Bridgeport,
Conn., AP photojournalist Doug Healey in Shelton, Conn., and AP
writers Chris Brummitt in Islamabad, Adam Schreck in Dubai and John
Christoffersen in Shelton, Conn.

(Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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