By Nicole Bode
DNAinfo Senior Editor
MANHATTAN — All it took was a $1,300 car from a 19-year-old college student, stolen plates from a junkyard and a trip to any hardware store to create a weapon of terrorism that police believe could have wreaked mass casualties in Times Square.
Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old Connecticut father, assembled the necessary parts for his mobile terror station with chilling ease, according to initial details released by investigators.
The alleged terrorist bought the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder, later found on West 45th Street packed with explosives, from a Craigslist ad, authorities said.
The seller was 19-year-old college student Peggy Colas, of Bridgeport, Conn., who handed over the car keys at a Connecticut mall in exchange for $1,300 in cash.
The receipt-free transaction would have been perfect for trying to thwart investigators, except for the fact that Shahzad did not file off VIN numbers on the engine and left a treasure trove of evidence, according to law enforcement.
“He was trying to cover his tracks, but he left more clues than a guy walking into a bank to rob it without a mask. This guy left everything here but his wallet," retired NYPD bomb squad veteran Kevin Barry told the New York Times.
The accused terrorist did, however, obtain stolen license plates for the Pathfinder from an auto parts store.
Kramer's used auto parts shop in Stratford, Conn. told authorities the plates found on the vehicle in Times Square were ripped off a Ford F-150 that had been brought in for repairs, law enforcement sources said. The auto shop said they had no idea who took the plates and had no video footage of the theft.
The rest of the bomb parts would have come easily, and cheaply, to anyone with a basic guide to bomb-making.
A pair of 5 gallon gas tanks the same size as the ones found in the trunk of the Pathfinder go for $15 at Sears. A 36-pound bag of Fertilizer costs $11.99 at Ace Hardware, and there were reportedly 100 pounds of fertilizer found inside a gun locker discovered in the back of the Pathfinder.
BBQ-style propane tanks like the three that investigators found in the vehicle could be purchased online for approximately $40 apiece. The homemade timer consisted of two alarm clocks wired together, and dozens of M-88 firecrackers. A case of 120 M-88 firecrackers sells for $61.74 online.
Thankfully for city, the shoestring construction backfired, after the cheap, crudely made bomb failed to detonate and eagle-eyed New Yorkers spotted a smoking vehicle in the busy tourist destination.