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Shahzad pleads guilty, warns of more attacks


New York: Pakistan-born American Faisal Shahzad, pleading guilty to all ten charges in the failed Times Square bombing, has warned that it was one small part of a war being waged by Muslims against Americans.

“I want to plead guilty 100 times over,” said Shahzad, 30, in a packed Manhattan federal court Monday after the 10-count indictment, including attempt to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempt to commit international terrorism, was read to him.

Describing himself as a “Muslim soldier” fighting a war against the United States, Shahzad said he plotted the attack for months and was prepared to shoot if anyone tried to stop him after he abandoned his explosives-laden SUV on a busy Manhattan corner.

As long as US forces remain active in Iraq, Afghanistan and other Muslim countries, “we will be attacking” the United States, he told US District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum in a calm but defiant tone.

In a statement, US Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said that if Shahzad’s bomb had gone off, it “could have led to serious loss of life” and that his guilty plea “ensured that he will pay the price for his actions.”

The US attorney for the southern district of New York, Preet Bharara, said that there had been no plea agreement between the government and Shahzad, and that the investigation continued.

In her questioning, Cedarbaum appeared to find it hard to believe that Shahzad could have worked alone, asking him repeatedly whether he had any help within the United States, the Los Angeles Times said. Shahzad insisted he had not, although he acknowledged receiving $12,000 from the Pakistani Taliban.

He described in a clear, matter-of-fact voice how he planned for months to join the Pakistani Taliban, receive terrorist training and put his lessons into practice in the United States.

On May 1, Shahzad said, he built a bomb in his apartment in Bridgeport, Connecticut, loaded it into the back of his Nissan Pathfinder, parked the vehicle on a crowded Manhattan corner, then walked away and waited for a boom. He said he chose a Saturday evening in Times Square to inflict the most damage possible.

The bomb was supposed to go off within 2 1/2 to five minutes, he was quoted as saying. “I was waiting to hear a sound, but I didn’t hear any sound,” Shahzad said.

When he realised the bomb had not detonated, Shahzad walked to Grand Central Terminal, caught a train home, watched the news of the incident and began planning his escape, he said.

Shahzad said he had carried a semiautomatic 9-millimeter Kel-Tec rifle folded into a laptop case and planned to use it if anyone tried to arrest him as he walked away from the car bomb and made his way back to Connecticut.

Asked what he had learned about bomb-making in Pakistan, Shahzad said, “The whole thing” – from how to set a timer to how to package the explosive elements.

When Shahzad referred to himself as a soldier, Cedarbaum noted that his intended victims were civilians. “If people select the government, we consider them all the same,” Shahzad responded.

When Cedarbaum asked whether that included children, Shahzad said women and children had died in US strikes in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

“It’s a war,” he said, describing himself as “part of the answer” for Muslims fighting that war.

Shahzad is expected to be sentenced in October and faces life in prison.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])