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Published: Tuesday, 6/22/2010

Times Square bomb suspect pleads guilty

BLADE NEWS SERVICES
In this courtroom sketch, Faisal Shahzad pleads guilty Monday in Manhattan Federal Court to carrying out the failed May 1 car bombing in New York's Times Square. In this courtroom sketch, Faisal Shahzad pleads guilty Monday in Manhattan Federal Court to carrying out the failed May 1 car bombing in New York's Times Square.
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NEW YORK - The suspect in the failed Times Square bombing pleaded guilty Monday, an abrupt and expedited end to a terrorism case that extended to Pakistan and an Islamic militant group there.

The defendant, Faisal Shahzad, 30, listened calmly as each of 10 counts was read to him in Federal District Court in Manhattan, and he indicated that he understood the charges and the penalties he faced.

Shahzad seemed relaxed as he recounted how and why he conceived the plot, traveling to Pakistan in December to join the Taliban and receive training in constructing a bomb.

And despite his admission of guilt and his extended cooperation with the authorities since his arrest, Shahzad was unapologetic, characterizing himself as "part of the answer to the U.S. terrorizing the Muslim people."

"I want to plead guilty, and I'm going to plead guilty 100 times over," he said, "because until the hour the U.S. pulls its forces from Iraq and Afghanistan, and stops the drone strikes in Somalia and Yemen and in Pakistan, and stops the occupation of Muslim lands, and stops killing the Muslims, and stops reporting the Muslims to its government, we will be attacking U.S., and I plead guilty to that."

The plea and Shahzad's comments came four days after a federal grand jury returned an indictment that offered new details about the government's accusations that Tehrik-e-Taliban, the umbrella organization for the Pakistani Taliban, had assisted Shahzad in his plot.

In court, he admitted receiving the training, saying he had gone to Pakistan to find the Taliban and learned how to build a bomb that he planned to detonate as part of his plan.

"With them, I did the training to wage an attack inside the United States of America," Shahzad said.

"Any kind of attack?" Judge

Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum asked.

"It would have been any kind

of attack," Shahzad said, "but I was given bombing training, and that's what I learned there."

Wearing a dark blue shirt and a white skullcap, Shahzad stood for nearly an hour answering the judge's questions about his motivations, his background, even his family.

"I had a wife and two beautiful kids," he said, adding that they had returned to Pakistan to be with family.

And it was seemingly with equanimity that Shahzad spoke of his plan to detonate a car bomb in New York City.

"I chose the center of Times Square," he explained.

The guilty plea was consistent with Shahzad's behavior since his arrest May 3, when he began cooperating with the federal authorities for more than two weeks without counsel and waived his Miranda rights.

The only question would be whether Shahzad would seek some sort of leniency in sentencing in return for his assistance.

Judge Cedarbaum scheduled Shahzad's sentencing for Oct. 5. His lawyer, Philip L. Weinstein, had no comment after the hearing.



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