‘Muslim soldier’ jailed for Times Square bomb plot

THE scene in a remote spot in Pennsylvania was exactly what authorities say failed bomber Faisal Shahzad had wanted on a busy evening in Times Square on May 1.

An improvised car bomb with 250 pounds of ammonium nitrate and diesel fuel, three 25-pound propane tanks and two five-gallon gasoline canisters blew up, causing a giant fireball.

It overturned and shredded four other cars parked nearby in a field, obliterated about a dozen dummies posed as pedestrians and shot fiery debris hundreds of feet in all directions.

A dramatic videotape of the FBI-staged test blast in June became a key piece of evidence against Shahzad, who was yesterday jailed for life for his plot to bring carnage to the heart of New York.

Technicians studied Shahzad’s design before using it to build a working model they say demonstrated his deadly intent.

“Had the bombing played out as Shahzad had so carefully planned, the lives of numerous residents and visitors of the city would have been lost and countless others would have been forever traumatised,” prosecutors wrote.

Shahzad’s bomb faltered, doomed by poor wiring and ingredients such as a low-grade fertiliser that couldn’t explode.

Pakistan-born Shahzad hasn’t disputed the allegations. In fact, “he spoke with pride” about the scheme, in which he bragged that he wanted to kill at least 40 people, the government said.

If he escaped arrest, he added, he hoped to set off another bomb two weeks later in a second, undisclosed location.

Calling himself a Muslim solider, a defiant Shahzad had pleaded guilty in June to 10 terrorism and weapons counts.

Shahzad, a former finance worker from Connecticut, was arrested two days after his attempted bombing on May 1.

Faisal Shahzad’s thirst for bloodshed showed no signs of waning as he and US District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum sparred repeatedly over his reasoning for giving up his comfortable life in the US to train in Pakistan and carry out a potentially deadly attack.

“You appear to be someone who was capable of education and I do hope you will spend some of the time in prison thinking carefully about whether the Koran wants you to kill lots of people,” Cedarbaum told Shahzad after she announced his mandatory life sentence, which will keep him behind bars until he dies.

Shahzad, 31, responded that the “Koran gives us the right to defend. And that’s all I’m doing”.

Earlier, he offered a lecture for Americans, saying he felt no remorse.

“We are only Muslims ... but if you call us terrorists, we are proud terrorists and we will keep on terrorising you,” he said.

At another point, he said: “The defeat of the US is imminent.”

Cedarbaum said her sentence was very important “to protect the public from further crimes of this defendant and others who would seek to follow him.”

Asked by the judge if he had any final words, Shahzad said, “I’m happy with the deal that God has given me.”


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