Video: 53 hours to Times Square bomb plot arrest
Transcript of: 53 hours to Times Square bomb plot arrest
WILLIAMS: Good evening .
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: The police and federal investigators say they have their man, the man who parked an SUV in Times Square here in New York on Saturday night and tried to blow it up . Their chase led them to a departing jumbo jet at Kennedy airport , where he was taken off the plane . His name is Faisal Shahzad . He's 30 years old, lived in Connecticut , a naturalized American citizen . Officials say he was trained in Pakistan . As you're about to hear, his arrest came just over 53 hours after the Nissan SUV was found with smoke coming out of it. While his bomb-making skills have been described as wildly incompetent, in the would-be terrorism business, it is the thought that counts, and the motivation, and desire. Our team is on this story tonight, led by justice correspondent Pete Williams in Times Square . Pete , good evening .
PETE WILLIAMS reporting: Brian , good evening . Officials say since Shahzad was arrested, he's been cooperative, admitting that he drove an SUV here Saturday night loaded with bomb components. And though he now faces serious charges, there was a moment last night when he must've thought he was going to get away with it. About 11:00 last night , on the tarmac at New York's Kennedy airport , Faisal Shahzad , trying to flee the US, must have felt an enormous sense of relief. The overseas flight he had just boarded, an Emirates Airlines plane to Dubai and then Pakistan , had just closed the door. But he didn't relax for long. The door suddenly opened again, and he was hauled off by customs and border protection agents after he was added only hours before to the no-fly list. Continuing the drama, the plane pulled back from the gate, but then an abrupt command from ground control .
Unidentified Controller: Emirates 202, have the Kennedy tower runway 22 right position. Actually, I have a message for you to go back to the gate immediately, so make the left turn when able.
P. WILLIAMS: And two others were taken off and questioned about their possible association with him. It all began at 6:30 Saturday night in Times Square and ended just before midnight Monday.
Mr. RAY KELLY (New York Police Commissioner): It was 53 hours and 20 minutes . Now, we know that Jack Bauer can do it in 24 minutes , but in the real world , 53 is a -- is a pretty good number.
P. WILLIAMS: The breakthrough evidence turned out to be the vehicle identification number . That led to the registered owner in this house in Connecticut , who sold the SUV last month for cash through Internet ads. The FBI traced phone calls to the seller from the buyer, who turned out to be Faisal Shahzad . Other evidence tied him to the attempted bombing, officials say. In the SUV were keys to his house and another car he owned. A prepaid cell phone he bought was used to arrange the purchase of the car and to call a Pennsylvania fireworks dealer. More than 150 M-88 firecrackers were a component of the bomb designed in the SUV . So was a fertilizer. Officials say a search of his house turned up more fireworks of the type used to make the bomb and bags of the same kind of fertilizer.
Mr. ERIC HOLDER (Attorney General): We believe that this suspected terrorist fashioned a bomb from rudimentary ingredients, placed it in a rusty SUV , and drove it into Times Square with the intent to kill as many innocent tourists and theater-goers as possible.
P. WILLIAMS: In custody, officials say Shahzad was cooperative, talking immediately and continuing to do so after he was read his rights, admitting his role in the bombing and claiming he acted alone. So far officials say there's nothing to suggest anyone else was directly involved, either here or overseas. No word, they say, on why he wanted to bomb Times Square . But prosecutors say Shahzad admitted during questioning that he received bomb-making training during a recent five-month stay in Pakistan , in an area where the Taliban is dominant. Despite that training, officials said today, the bomb he assembled was badly designed.
Mr. JOHN PISTOLE (FBI): It does not appear, from our opinion, to be the most sophisticated device. There are a number of opportunities for the device to fail.
P. WILLIAMS: Shahzad was formally charged today with the attempted bombing, but investigators still want to know who trained him in Pakistan and who from there called him four times on April 24th , just before he bought the SUV .
Brian: Pete Williams starting us off in Times Square tonight. Pete ,