Free Markets, Free People

Closing in on the Times Square bomber? (UPDATED)

Via ABC:

Federal authorities are closing in on the man they say is a person of interest in the Times Square car bomb attempt this weekend, who is described as a naturalized American citizen who hails from Pakistan and just returned after spending five months there.

There is growing evidence the bomber did not act alone and had ties to radical elements overseas, with one senior official telling ABC News there are several individuals believed to be connected with the bombing and that at least one of them is a Pakistani-American.

Attorney General Eric Holder said today the investigators had made “substantial progress” in tracking the man who drove a Nissan Pathfinder into New York’s Times Square with a crude bomb that failed to detonate.


OK, so they really were closing in on someone. According to NBC:

Authorities arrested a suspect in the attempted weekend car bombing in Times Square, NBC News’ justice correspondent Pete Williams reported early Tuesday morning.

A U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent, Shahzad Faisal, was arrested Monday night on Long Island, Williams reported.

Earlier, an official told The Associated Press that the potential suspect recently traveled to Pakistan. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because the case was at a sensitive stage.

He seems like a helpful, chap, though, assisting the FBI by apparently leaving an email trail.

The officials said the man was a Connecticut resident who paid cash weeks ago for the SUV parked in Times Square on Saturday and rigged with a crude propane-and-gasoline bomb.

NBC’s Williams reported the man’s name was on an e-mail that was sent to the seller of the car last month, as well as other evidence suggesting he had a role in the attempted bombing.

And while he pulled the VIN plaque off the dashboard, he didn’t go through the trouble of removing the embossed VINs from the engine or axle.

Apparently this rocket scientist–always assuming the FBI has the right guy, and not another Richard Jewel–couldn’t have made himself easier to find if he’d dropped a yellow dye marker, and powered up a rescue strobe and homing beacon.

Interestingly, he appears to have been born and raised in Connecticut, although he is a fellow of Middle Eastern ethnicity.

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35 Responses to Closing in on the Times Square bomber? (UPDATED)

  • Richard Jewel was exonerated.  Just FYI.

  • Interestingly, he appears to have been born and raised in Connecticut, although he is a fellow of Middle Eastern ethnicity.
    Score one for the American School system.

    • This isn’t a joke!?  You really believe this, don’t you?
      Riiiight…. It was his 7th grade math teacher that turned him to terrorism.

    • On the other hand, 5 months of training by the bombmakers of the Taliban didn’t sink in either. You just know that in some cave in the tribal area, some old dude with missing fingers is shaking his head in disgust.

  • “he appears to have been born and raised in Connecticut”

    More ironclad proof, for all you wingnuts, that this is domestic terrorism!

  • Three cheers for the FBI!!
    No matter how simple it might seem on paper, the fact is they got this guy and before he could make his escape.  We must applaud them when they do something right.

    • We must applaud them when they do something right.

      There’s a “blind squirrel” joke in there somewhere…

    • Someone did something wrong though- this guy was allowed to buy a ticket out of the country and get aboard a plane.  Wasn’t he flagged????

  • … he is a fellow of Middle Eastern ethnicity.

    Let’s not jump to conclusions, we were “all hands on deck”, Islam is a religion of peace, the system worked, I fear a backlash against other Muslim and Muslim-appearing people, the investigation is on-going, etc, etc.

    Did I miss anything that Imeme and MiniTru will be repeating ad nauseum for the next week until they actually realize (take credit for?) that Americans are neither bigotted enough nor mean enough to go on killing sprees against people who in some small way look like an actual criminal?

  • It appears that he is going straight to court, which means that he has a lawyer and is not being interrogated even superficially to determine if he returned to the country as an enemy combatant with a mission to attack a vital location.

    The news I’ve seen is sketchy, so I’m not sure my inferences are true.

    The good news is that he’s been caught, and that’s about where the good news ends.

    Naturalized Pakistani-American back from five months in Pakistan should have been eyeballed when he bought the SUV on Craigslist, in my opinion. What went down in Pakistan? Where’s the forward position on that? The guy had to absorb jihadist influences at some point. He didn’t just wake up one morning and decide to go try to blow up Times Square.

    • How about check up on any American who visits Pakistan for more than two weeks at a time.

      • An extended visit to Pakistan is certainly something that’s at the top of the funnel, given that Pakistan is such a bloody hall of mirrors when it comes to this sort of thing. I think that one of the problems there is that there are people who are on both sides, depending on where their advantage lies at any given point in the week or day. That’s no revelation.

        But the idea that a Pakistani-American back from five months in Pakistan could be “off the map” is just not consistent with a forward ahead-of-the-curve strategy on counterterrorism.

        Look back at the handling of Major Hasan as an experimental control on how slack the military itself was. I still don’t believe the full story of that is out. For instance, did Hasan have someone in the Army or the government who was protecting him? I just don’t believe that it was all political correctness. Maybe it was. But that explanation has never satisfied me. How did Hasan wind up at that conference he attended, for instance? Who invited him, put him on the list, etc.? If it was just a routine thing, fine. But he was giving off more signals than a busy intersection.

        • well, the CIA is supposed to voluntarily meet with American citizens returning from  abroad to see if they saw anything interesting. After 911, you’d think Pakistan would be top priority for such debriefings. and maybe you’d get some weird vibes from some of these people..hint hint

  • Once you mirandize a terrorist the arrest is useless old news. The story is over.


    Because in an interrogation room with a lawyer present and the suspect now looking at his options in the criminal justice system you’ve lost your major advantage: his total discomfort (a way of putting it) and his uncertainty about his status. Now he has an officer of the court to guide him through.

    What this guy attempted to do, and what he successfully did up to the point where he failed, is not a civilian crime. It must be regarded prima facie as an act of asymmetrical warfare. Or, at least, a great deal of time (like maybe 72 hours) is needed to thoroughly comb through this guy’s state of mind and foreign activity and influences and contacts before he is even preliminarily considered for civilian criminal justice.

    Being unable to make that distinction will lead to a cascade, is already leading to a cascade, of terroristic probes of vulnerability. It isn’t hard to understand that we, meaning America and its response, are being watched. The FBI can say “we learn something here,” but the other side is watching too, and is “leaning something here.”

    If I’m watching from the other side, what I’m learning is that “America is being run by idiots now.”

    And I’ll name just one name and stop there: Eric Holder. No. Business. Being. Anywhere. Near. This.

    None. He is totally incompetent and a virtual bird brain.

    • I don’t fully agree.  All else aside, this guy is a US citizen, and as such deserves full protection under the Bill of Rights.
      Remember, though, that three people were pulled off the plane, but only one was arrested.  I suspect the other two might not have been citizens…

      • Is an enemy combatant entitled to Constitutional protections?  What if that combatant is a US citizen?

        • I think that’s already been settled with the – oh heck, what was the name of the guy (a US citizen) pulled off the plane in Chicago and held by the Bush admin as an enemy combatant until the court ruled otherwise?

          • The court never ruled otherwise, if my memory is right. The Bushies eventually turned him over to civilian justice, I believe, but they won the court cases about holding him.

          • I don’t believe that’s true, but I can’t remember the name and I don’t have the time to look it up.

          • Are you referring to Jose Padilla? Yeah, I think that the Bushies won those cases. But at some point they decided to put him on trial for regular crimes and that he’s somewhere in the federal prison system. I used to follow that case pretty closely, but it’s been a few years.

          • Yup, you’re right – Padilla and the court never ruled on it, the Bush administration put the case in civilian court. A quickie from the Wikipedia entry:

            Padilla was arrested in Chicago on May 8, 2002, and was detained as a material witness until June 9, 2002, when President George W. Bush designated him an illegal enemy combatant and transferred him to a military prison, arguing that he was thereby not entitled to trial in civilian courts. Padilla was held for three-and-a-half years as an “enemy combatant” after his arrest in 2002 on suspicion of plotting a radioactive “Dirty bomb” attack. That charge was dropped and his case was moved to a civilian court after pressure from civil liberties groups.

            He was then convicted in a federal court.

          • I think that there were some court rulings, consequentially in favor of the CINC’s prerogative to detain as illegal combatant. And if I’m remembering it properly, former AG Mukasey was involved in some of those decisions as a federal judge in NYC.

      • Yes, you are protected by the BOR if you haven’t just left the country and returned as an illegal combatant. That’s something to be determined while in military custody.

        If we can’t make these distinctions, then we fall prey to the asymmetrical tactic of the enemy usion our own legal and moral structures against us.

        Put another way, in conventional military terms, if a thousand U.S. citizens left the country and then returned as an armed military brigade in the uniform of a foreign power and marched on Times Square, are they treated as an enemy army or as American citizens?

        Or, does the Times Square bomb have to go off to be considered an act of asymmetrical warfare? Does it have to be a certain size bomb? How big? A hundred pounds of semtex? A nuclear weapon?

        I think that in an incident like the one just gone down you draw the line when you have sufficient information about the individual or individuals involved, and you can make an honest determination to hand him over to civilian prosecution once you have done that. But not immediately. Not prior to due diligence in considering it a military/national security matter.

  • Janny Nappy the other day made her “CYA” statement about this man might only have info, blah blah blah, I suspect specifically to avoid a Richard Jewel moment.

  • Glad they’ve caught the guy – I just hope they didn’t violate his rights by using GPS to find him or play creepy music while in pursuit.

    • Oh no, they did!

      In the end, it was secret Army intelligence planes that did him in. Armed with his cell phone number, they circled the skies over the New York area, intercepting a call to Emirates Airlines reservations, before scrambling to catch him at John F. Kennedy International Airport.

  • Bloomberg just now saying he won’t tolerate any bias against Pakistanis. What was that, just 24-48 hours after he speculated that the perpetrator was someone who didn’t like health care reform?

    Perhaps you’ll understand why I call him “the Slob Mayor.”

    Of course we don’t tolerate any bias against Pakistanis, as in tolerating attacks on random Pakistanis or their businesses. But I have to say that in all my years in NYC I know New Yorkers to be among the most tolerate and level-headed people when it comes to that sort of prejudice simply because of the huge multi-ethnic variety of the City. Bloomberg, who probably has very little to do with the rabble, doesn’t understand that the average New Yorker is much more sophisticated, and far far less inclined toward slobbery, than he is.

    He is the Slob Mayor. Par Excellence.

  • The latest report is that the Pakistani-American suspect has said he “acted alone.”

    Well, that’s nice. Maybe he “acted alone” if he doesn’t want thirty members of his family back in Pakistan to be killed.

    We’re not involved in serious counterterrorism anymore, and I would say that we should expect an acceleration of attacks, without expecting a continuation of “luck” that the attackers are blundering fools.

    Remember that we’ve just been through several months of this idiotic administration gradually but still unwilling to fully back off of its plans to hold the trial of KSM in downtown Manhattan, and forget about the idea of giving him a civilian trial at all.

    We’ve seen horribly incompetent and stupid leaders like this before. They were all over Europe in the 1920s and 1930s. They’re glandular narcissists, like Bloomberg and Holder, surrounded by their own tactical security details, who specialize in getting other people killed.

    And best of all, they don’t really care. It’s all just an abstraction. They have a billion yards of rationalizations, stupid ideas, and excuses. They’re never out of stock.