War on Terror

Times Square Bomber Pleads Guilty, Declares War on U.S.

| by Mark Berman Opposing Views

The man who packed his SUV with explosives and tried -- but failed -- to blow it up in the middle of a packed New York City pleaded guilty to terrorism charges on Monday. While admitting to the charges, Faisal Shahzad warned "we will be attacking U.S." unless American troops pull out of Muslim lands.

In a courtroom in Manhattan, Shahzad admitted he tried to set off the bomb on May 1, 2010 in Times Square. The 30-year-old said he chose a Saturday night because it would be crowded with people he could injure or kill.

The failed bomber said he received $15,000 and five days of explosives training (late last year and early this year) from the Pakistan Taliban -- just months after he became a U.S. citizen. But he said he built the bomb by himself, with no help from anyone else in the U.S.

He explained how he packed his vehicle with three separate bomb components, hoping to set off a fertilizer-fueled bomb packed in a gun cabinet, a set of propane tanks and gas canisters rigged with fireworks to explode into a fireball. He also revealed he was carrying a folding assault rifle for "self-defense."

Shahzad said he lit a fuse and waited 2 1/2 to five minutes for the bomb to erupt, but nothing happened. "I was waiting to hear a sound but I didn't hear a sound. ... So I walked to Grand Central and went home," he said.

U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum interrupted Shahzad repeatedly as he told his story. Here is one of their exchanges after Shahzad said he was retaliating for American troops who "attacked the Muslim lands:"

Cedarbaum: "But not the people who were walking in Times Square that night. Did you look around to see who they were?"

Shahzad: "Well, the people select the government. We consider them all the same. The drones, when they hit--"

Cedarbaum: "Including the children?"

Shahzad: "Well, the drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq, they don't see children, they don't see anybody. They kill women, children, they kill everybody. It's a war, and in war, they kill people. They're killing all Muslims."

Later Shahzad indicted all Americans for the troops' actions. "I am part of the answer to the U.S. terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people. And, on behalf of that, I'm avenging the attack. Living in the United States, Americans only care about their own people but they don't care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die."

Some of the 10 charges Shahzad pleaded guilty to carry mandatory life prison terms. Shahzad told the judge he understood what he was doing, saying he wanted "to plead guilty and 100 times more."

Sentencing is set for October 5, where Shahzad will likely find out that he will spend the rest of his life behind bars.