Accused Times Square Bomber Waives Right to Speedy Arraignment, Keeps Talking
By Jill Colvin and Nicole Bode
MANHATTAN — The nation will have to wait at least another day to see the accused Times Square terror bomber as investigators continued to pump him for information Wednesday ahead of his federal court arraignment.
Faisal Shahzad is cooperating with federal investigators following his arrest early Tuesday on a Dubai-bound jet at JFK, the New York Times reported. He waived his right to a speedy arraignment on Wednesday, allowing investigators additional time to speak with him before he is formally charged.
Investigators have strong suspicions that Shahzad is linked to the Pakistani Taliban, the New York Times said. If he is, this would be first sign of the terrorist organization’s ability to target countries outside the Middle East, the Times said.
Pakistan’s foreign minister said that the bombing attempt might be a response to the U.S.’s ongoing offensive against the Taliban, saying on CBS News, "Let's not be naive. They're not going to sort of sit and welcome you to eliminate them. They're going to fight back and we have to be ready for this fight."
Shahzad, 30, reportedly gave federal authorities the slip Monday night when he drove to JFK with a gun in his car and managed to board a midnight plane to Dubai despite his name appearing on the no-fly list.
The dangerous near-miss prompted the government to tighten regulations at airports around the nation on Wednesday.
Effective immediately, airlines must check the updated list of names on the no-fly list within two hours of being notified of a change, rather than within 24 hours as had been previously required, the New York Post reported.
Authorities said Shahzad was almost able to sidestep the flight ban by buying his ticket in cash and boarding the plane before Customs and Border enforcement agents had a chance to compare the new list to the flight manifest, the Daily News reported. Shahzad was reportedly caught after the jet had already closed its doors and started to taxi down the runway.
The new rules come as new details emerged about the scope of Shahzad’s plot.
The Los Angeles Times reported that one of the men arrested in Pakistan as part of the Times Square terror arrests is a member of the terrorist organization Jaish-e-Muhammad, or army of Muhammad. The organization is believed responsible for the 2002 murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl.
The suspect, Sheikh Mohammed Rehan, allegedly took a trip from Karachi to Peshawar in a pickup truck with Shahzad on July 7, 2009, the LA Times reported. The pair returned to Karachi July 22.
Shahzad was reportedly caught on security camera buying fireworks at Phantom Fireworks in Matamoras, Pa., within the last eight weeks. Owner Bruce Zoldan told the Associated Press the fireworks were not strong enough to detonate a bomb. He said police told him not to release the video.
Federal investigators said in a criminal complaint that Shahzad placed calls to a Pennsylvania fireworks shop using a pre-paid cellphone he also used to reach the seller of the Nissan Pathfinder used in the bomb plot.
Another terrorist organization had initially claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing, the Pakistani Taliban group Tehrik-e-Taliban. On Wednesday, a Pakistani Taliban official denied that Shahzad was a member of their terror cell, but praised his work.
Taliban spokesman in Pakistan Azam Tariq, appearing on CNN, called Shahzad's efforts "very good," but said his organization neither trained nor dispatched him.
Tariq said additional fighters would hit the US.
FBI and NYPD authorities have sought to downplay any connection to an international terrorist connection, and Shahzad reportedly told investigators he acted alone.