The man arrested for a failed car bombing attempt in New York City’s Times Square will likely face criminal terrorism charges has been read his Miranda rights, federal officials said Tuesday.
After being questioned without being read his Miranda rights under the public safety exception for an unknown period of time, Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan, was advised of his rights. He had been taken in to custody late Monday night at John F. Kennedy International Airport while attempting to board a flight to Dubai.
Attorney General Eric Holder first announced the arrest early Tuesday morning around 1:30 a.m. He said Shahzad cooperated even after being read his rights, and was providing useful information to authorities.
Federal investigators said Shahzad, 30, purchased a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder online, loaded it with explosives and left it in Times Square on Saturday. Law enforcement officials were able to diffuse and remove the car bomb before it detonated.
Holder appeared at a news conference with a half dozen other federal officials Tuesday afternoon to discuss the arrest and investigation.
At the news conference, Holder said the Justice Department will likely charge Shahzad with several terrorism and explosives charges, including terrorism transcending national borders and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. Shahzad is scheduled to appear in a New York City federal court this afternoon.
“It is clear this was a terrorist plot aimed at murdering Americans in one of the busiest places in this country,” Holder said. “Make no mistake — although this car bomb failed to detonate, this plot was a serious attempt.”
John S. Pistole, Deputy Director of the FBI, said Shahzad was first interviewed after his arrest by federal investigators but without being read a Miranda warning, which notifies suspects they can decline to answer questions from law enforcement. Shahzad was later transported to another location and provided with a Miranda warning. Investigators continue to interview him and Shahzad is cooperating with his interviewers, Pistole said.
Congressional Republicans and others have sharply criticized the Justice Department and Holder for allowing alleged terrorists to receive Miranda warnings, saying that valuable intelligence may be lost by not handling terrorists as enemy combatants. In December, a Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, unsuccessfully tried to bomb a Detroit-bound airliner. After he was arrested, FBI agents advised Abdulmutallab of his Miranda rights.
At the news conference Tuesday afternoon, Holder was joined by Pistole, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly, Assistant Attorney General for National Security David Kris and the U.S. Attorneys for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, and the District of Connecticut, Nora R. Dannehy.
Kelly said the investigation was done in “record time” and said the FBI and the New York City Police Department worked closely. “We know that Jack Bauer can do it in 24 (hours) but in the real word, 53 is a pretty good number,” said Kelly.
UPDATED 2:32 p.m.
Holder’s full prepared remarks are below.
Remarks as Prepared for Delivery by Attorney General Eric Holder at a Press Conference Regarding the Times Square Attempted BombingWASHINGTON, D.C. ~ Tuesday, May 4, 2010
As many of you know, Faisal Shahzad was arrested late last night in connection with his alleged role in the attempted car bombing in Times Square last Saturday.
Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, is in federal custody today. He has been and continues to be questioned by federal agents. As a result of those communications, Shahzad has provided useful information to authorities.
We anticipate charging him with an act of terrorism transcending national borders, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, use of a destructive device during the commission of another crime, and explosives charges.
I want to emphasize that this investigation is ongoing, and we continue to pursue a number of leads as we gather useful intelligence relating to this terrorist attack.
Based on what we know so far, it is clear that this was a terrorist plot aimed at murdering Americans in one of the busiest places in this country. We believe this suspected terrorist fashioned a bomb from rudimentary ingredients, placed it in a rusty SUV and drove it into Times Square with the intent to kill as many innocent tourists and theater-goers as possible.
Make no mistake – although this car bomb failed to properly detonate – this plot was a serious attempt. If successful, it could have resulted in a lethal terrorist attack causing death and destruction in the heart of New York City.
It is a stark reminder of the reality we face today in this country. The reality that there is a constant threat from those who wish to do us harm simply because of our way of life.
There are organized terrorist networks that are targeting us. There are lone terrorists here at home and abroad who are targeting us. As months, even years go by without a successful terrorist attack, the most dangerous lesson we can draw is a false impression that this threat no longer exists.
It does, and the Department of Justice and our partners in the national security community have no higher priority than disrupting those attempts, and bringing those who plot them to justice. In this case, that is exactly what the dedicated agents and prosecutors from the Department and various law enforcement agencies have achieved through exemplary investigative efforts.
Over the last two days, men and women from the FBI, the Department’s National Security Division, and U.S. Attorneys Offices worked with NYPD, DHS, and state and local partners to doggedly track the evidence in this case. The quick action from FBI agents was crucial to alerting Customs and Border Patrol agents, who ultimately arrested him late last night at JFK airport as he was attempting to flee the country.
FBI agents have been able to glean additional evidence from searching Shahzad’s car and home, and they continue to work with their state and local counterparts in New York, Connecticut and other jurisdictions to gather evidence and intelligence related to this case. We are also coordinating with other members of the President’s national security team to ensure we use every resource available to bring everyone responsible to justice.
These agents and prosecutors are the backbone of our national security efforts – many of them doing their jobs outside the spotlight of the media. I want to commend them for their results in this case, and their unwavering commitment to their jobs. We owe them our gratitude and our respect.
Finally, I want to take this opportunity to remind all Americans how important it is to remain vigilant. The SUV in Times Square was first noticed by an alert bystander who reported it to authorities. By being aware of his surroundings and thinking quickly, he helped save lives and thwarted a potentially devastating attack. As always, anyone who notices suspicious activity should report it to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
Now I’d like to turn it over to Secretary Napolitano.