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US bomb suspect 'was trying to board Dubai flight'

New York, May 4, 2010

A Pakistani-American man has been arrested for driving a failed car bomb into New York's Times Square last Saturday as investigators continue to pursue leads, US authorities said on Tuesday.

Faisal Shahzad, a naturalised US citizen born in Pakistan, was arrested at about 11:45 pm on Monday (0345 GMT on Tuesday) at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York as he attempted to board a flight to Dubai, local and federal officials said.

'The intent behind this terrorist act was to kill Americans,' US Attorney General Eric Holder told an early morning news conference.   

Faisal will appear in Manhattan federal court later on Tuesday to face charges 'for allegedly driving a car bomb into Times Square on the evening of May 1,' according to a statement by US Attorney Preet Bharara, FBI agent George Venizelos and New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly.   

Authorities were searching the 30-year-old Shahzad's home in Bridgeport, Connecticut, New York police said.   

Shahzad is also believed to have bought the 1993 Nissan sport utility vehicle used to carry the crude bomb made of fuel and fireworks into Times Square as the theater and shopping district was packed with people on a warm Saturday evening.

'This investigation is ongoing, as are our attempts to gather useful intelligence, and we continue to pursue a number of leads,' Holder said, adding that 'it's important that the American people remain vigilant.'    

For New Yorkers who bore the brunt of the Sept. 11 attacks by al Qaeda militants in 2001, the scare was a reminder that their city of 8 million people remained under constant threat.   

Law enforcement sources told Reuters that Saturday's attempted attack may have involved more than one person and could have international ties. The New York Times said Shahzad had recently returned from a trip to Pakistan.

The Taliban in Pakistan said on Sunday it planted the bomb to avenge the killing in April of al Qaeda's two top leaders in Iraq as well as US interference in Muslim countries.   

Some officials voiced skepticism about the claim. But former CIA analyst Bruce Riedel, who last year oversaw an Obama administration strategy review on Afghanistan and Pakistan, cautioned against dismissing a possible role by the Taliban.

'They have said they want to attack inside the United States,' he said before the arrest was announced, adding there was 'a very serious possibility' the incident involved 'some Pakistani-American who has never built a car bomb before in his life but who is being coached either by phone or Internet.'

Pakistan is a key ally to the United States and other Nato countries fighting the Taliban in neighbouring Afghanistan but is also seen as a training ground for Islamist militants. - Reuters




Tags: Dubai | New York | Times Square | car bomb |

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