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Published: Monday, 10/11/2010

Terror and justice

The United States is lucky that Faisal Shahzad, the homegrown terrorist who failed to detonate a car bomb in Times Square on May 1, was incompetent at that task.

Unfortunately for Shahzad, who pleaded guilty to the attempted bombing, there was no incompetence by the criminal justice system that prosecuted him and the federal judge who sentenced him last week to life in prison.

Shahzad, 31, a Pakistani national who became an American citizen, was a tool of the Pakistani Taliban. After training for the mission in Pakistan, the former Connecticut-based financial analyst was given $12,000 by his handlers to carry out the bombing.

Shahzad confessed that his intention had been to kill and maim as many as 40 people at one of the busiest intersections in Manhattan. If that act had succeeded and he remained at large, his plan was to detonate a second bomb two weeks later, in hopes of sending a new wave of panic throughout New York.

The bomb failed to detonate. Faulty wiring created enough smoke to attract the attention of a street vendor, who promptly notified police about the explosives-laden Nissan Pathfinder Shahzad used.

After that, everything that could go wrong for the bumbling terrorist did. Shahzad left a trail of evidence that quickly identified him as a suspect. He was pulled from a Dubai-bound jet while trying to flee the country.

By pleading guilty, Shahzad spared the country what could have been a long and expensive trial. As it stands, the not-so-wily terrorist was caught, arrested, convicted, and sentenced to life in prison in five months.

Thanks to the superb work of police and prosecutors who assembled a solid case, Shahzad is now the poster child for how American justice deals with domestic terrorists. Let it be a warning to future terror suspects.



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