In a series of events likened to a movie thriller, Pakistani immigrant Faisal Shahzad was removed from a Dubai-bound airliner that was called back from the runway and arrested for a terrorist act – just 53 hours after he allegedly parked an SUV car-bomb in Times Square.
Shahzad has confessed and provided useful intelligence while being questioned after his arrest at New York’s JFK airport, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said on Tuesday, May 4.
Just before 6:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 1 a video camera recorded the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder being driven across Broadway. Moments later, a Vietnam-veteran street vendor alerted police to the vehicle, which was emitting acrid smoke and was found to contain enough explosive ingredients to “to kill as many innocent tourists and theatergoers as possible,” according to Holder.
The mass of propane tanks, fertilizer and fireworks failed to explode and evidence taken from the vehicle at an NYPD forensic facility in Queens led cops and FBI agents to Bridgeport Connecticut and the former owner of the vehicle who provided information that identified Shahzad.
The 30-year-old naturalized citizen was placed on the terrorist “no fly list” on Monday, May 3 and observed by customs agents boarding an Emirates Airline flight at JFK Airport’s Terminal 1 that night.
He was removed from the flight and arrested just before midnight. The car he drove to the airport reportedly contained an automatic weapon and several clips of ammunition.
International reports say that arrests have been made in Pakistan in connection with the event and the investigation is ongoing.
Congratulations have come pouring in for everyone, from federal investigators and cops at the scene to Duane Jackson and Lance Orton, the street vendors who identified the vehicle, helped to evacuate the area, and were praised by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg.
“He did exactly what I keep saying every New Yorker should do – he saw something and he said something,” Bloomberg said.
Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly exulted in the successful investigation on Tuesday.
“Fifty-three hours and 17 minutes elapsed from the time Faisal Shahzad crossed Broadway in his Pathfinder to the time he was apprehended at Kennedy Airport. Jack Bauer may have caught him in ‘24,’ but in the real world, 53’s not bad.”
Back at JFK, however, workers around the cafeteria area, where inside information circulates, were less ecstatic. Asking that their names be withheld, they told The Queens Courier that “there are usually one or two incidents a week, though it’s normally people trying to get things on the planes.”
“It’s a sad world we live in,” said one. Another added, “Unfortunately, everyone is a suspect.”
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