Times Square Car Bomber Details Chilling Plot

What many people refuse to understand is that Muslims want to kill us just because we are non-Muslim. If we left their countries today and never set foot in them again, we would still be attacked. Our departures would change nothing, other than to embolden the terrorist to do even more.

NEW YORK — Admitted terrorist Faisal Shahzad was so eager to tell how he plotted to kill Americans in Times Square, he went to court with a prepared statement.

U.S. District Judge Miriam Cedarbaum refused to hear him read it Monday, instead challenging the Pakistan-born American citizen to just say “what happened.”

In an unapologetic, matter-of-fact courtroom colloquy that followed, Shahzad offered chilling details about how he trained with the Pakistani Taliban to build bombs, then returned to the U.S. to launch an attack that would avenge attacks on Muslims by U.S. forces overseas.

“One has to understand where I’m coming from,” he said in an unusual departure from tightly scripted guilty pleas, with his defense attorney and prosecutors sitting in silence in federal court in Manhattan. “I consider myself … a Muslim soldier.”

Shahzad, 30, admitted leaving an SUV rigged with a homemade bomb in bustling Times Squares on a warm night on May 1. The bomb failed to go off, and the Bridgeport, Conn., resident was arrested trying to leave the country on a Dubai-bound flight two days later.

Authorities say following his capture, Shahzad voluntarily started talking about the botched bombing right away — a pattern that continued in open court, where he agreed to plead guilty to 10 terrorism and weapons counts without the benefit of a plea deal and with certainty he’d face life in prison.

“I want to plead guilty, and I’m going to plead guilty 100 times over,” he said.

Until U.S. forces leave Muslim territory, he added, “we will be attacking U.S.”

Widely circulated snapshots of Shahzad — a U.S.-trained financial analyst and married father of two — show him with a neatly trimmed beard, all smiles and looking carefree behind sunglasses driving a car, or standing next to his American wife. When led into court on Monday, he had on a white skull cap and prisoner’s uniform, his beard shaggy and his demeanor full of pride and absent remorse.

Shahzad traced his plot to a 2009 trip to Pakistan that began only three months after he received his U.S. citizenship.

During the trip, he said he sought and received five days’ training in explosives from the Pakistani Taliban in the lawless Waziristan region before returning to the United States in February to pursue a one-man scheme to bring death and destruction to New York.

The indictment said he received $5,000 in cash on Feb. 25 from an unnamed coconspirator in Pakistan and $7,000 more on April 10, sent at the coconspirator’s direction. Shahzad said in court Monday that the Pakistani Taliban also gave him more than $4,000 when he left training camp.

He explained that he loaded his vehicle with three 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 in a laptop computer case for “self-defense.”

Shahzad said he expected the bomb to begin going off after he lighted a fuse and waited between 2 1/2 minutes and five minutes for it to erupt.

“I was waiting to hear a sound, but I couldn’t hear any sound. … So I just walked to Grand Central (Terminal), and I went home,” he said.

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