The man who planted a car bomb in New York’s Times Square boasted that he thought it would kill at least 40 people and he planned to detonate a second bomb two weeks later, US prosecutors said.
They quoted the former financial analyst in a video where he said he had hoped “to join my brothers in jihad” ever since the September 11 2001 attacks.
Pakistani Faisal Shahzad should get life in prison when he is sentenced on October 5, prosecutors said in a court filing, arguing that he “had every intention of delivering a powerful and terrorising strike to the heart of New York City”.
The government noted that father-of-two Shahzad, 30, showed no remorse when he pleaded guilty on June 21 after confessing to investigators.
In fact, prosecutors wrote, “he spoke with pride about what he and his co-conspirators had done”.
Included in the government submission to the sentencing judge in US District Court in Manhattan was a 40-minute video in which Shahzad fires a machine gun in what appears to be the mountains of Pakistan as he announces that he has met members of the Pakistan Taliban and has decided “we are going to raise an attack inside America”.
Prosecutors also included a video of the government’s explosion of a bomb the size of Shahzad’s, saying the results in a Pennsylvania field showed the attack would have been “devastating to the surrounding area” had it succeeded.
Through most of the first video, Shahzad is seated and quoting from the Koran, but makes his intentions clear towards the end when he states: “I have been trying to join my brothers in jihad ever since 9/11 happened. I am planning to wage an attack inside America,” prosecutors said.
Shahzad was arrested two days after his May 1 bomb attempt in tourist-filled Times Square, where the explosives he had packed into the back of a sports utility vehicle sputtered and failed to detonate.
Prosecutors said he tried to ignite the bomb before he abandoned the vehicle and that he was “prepared to conduct additional attacks until he was captured or killed”. The government did not list other locations that Shahzad might have chosen as targets.
A lawyer for Shahzad did not immediately return a request for comment.
Shahzad chose a warm Saturday evening to carry out his attack in a part of Times Square he believed would be most crowded based on streaming video of the world-famous tourist magnet that he had looked at online, prosecutors said.
He lit the fuse of his bomb, then left the vehicle to head to Grand Central terminal and, from there, his Connecticut home, pausing along the way to listen for the explosion that never came, the filing said.
A street seller spotted smoke coming from the SUV and alerted police, who quickly cleared the area. The bomb attempt set off an intense investigation that culminated two days later with investigators plucking Shahzad off a Dubai-bound plane at a New York airport.
The government made clear that much of its information came from Shahzad, who waived his right not to incriminate himself.
Prosecutors quoted extensively from the video that they said was posted online by the Pakistan Taliban on July 14, called “A brave effort by Faisal Shahzad to attack United States in its own Land”.
Prosecutors said the video included a segment in which Shahzad explains that “jihad is one of the pillars upon which Islam stands” and later advises that “Jews and Christians have to accept Islam as a religion and if you don’t do that, then you are bound to go in hellfire”.
Shahzad pleaded guilty to 10 terrorism and weapons counts, some of which carry mandatory life sentences.
He said the Pakistan Taliban provided him with funds and five days of explosives training late last year and early this year, months after he became a US citizen.
Then, he said, he built his fertiliser-fuelled bomb packed in a gun cabinet, with a set of propane tanks and gas canisters rigged with fireworks to explode into a fireball.
He also revealed that he was carrying a folding assault rifle, which he said was for self-defence.
Prosecutors said in their court document that Shahzad had practised firing the gun at a range in Connecticut “to ensure he was fully prepared if confronted by law enforcement authorities”.