Faisal Shahzad, accused of attempting to set off a car bomb in Times Square, received $12,000 from the Pakistani Taliban, according to a federal indictment released Thursday. The 10-count indictment against Mr. Shahzad, who became a US citizen in 2009 and grew up in Pakistan, includes charges with mandatory life sentences for his botched attempt in New York City on May 1.
The indictment alleges that Shahzad received payments of $5,000 and $7,000 in transactions with an accomplice affiliated with the Taliban, the Washington Post reports. He collected one payment in February in Massachusetts and the next two weeks later in New York.
In this indictment, the prosecution added five new charges – including conspiracy and attempted terrorist act across national borders – in addition to the charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, according to Bloomberg. Though Shahzad did not enter a please in his first court appearance May 18, Attorney General Eric Holder has said that he has admitted to his role in the bombing and has cooperated with authorities since his arrest, Bloomberg adds:
Shahzad, who lived in Bridgeport, Connecticut, told authorities he “recently” received bomb-making instructions in Waziristan, the US said in court papers. He also told officials he tried to detonate the improvised bomb in the Pathfinder and tried to flee the US after the failed attack, prosecutors said.
Federal agents arrested three more people on immigration charges in May when probing the bombing, though no one other than Shahzad has been publicly charged with the plot, Bloomberg adds.
Shahzad was arrested while boarding a flight to Dubai from New York’s JFK airport. He also considered attacks on Connecticut helicopter maker Sikorsky, and on Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Terminal, and the World Financial Center in New York City, according to senior counterterrorism officials, CNN reports.
He will be arraigned Monday.
While US officials and analysts initially brushed off the Pakistan Taliban’s claim of a connection to the failed attack, since they did not see it as a transnational group, the evidence of their involvement showcased the lengthening reach of Pakistan-based militants.
Shahzad’s attempt followed a string of American residents who have traveled to Pakistan to meet anti-Western groups, The Christian Science Monitor reported. Those included Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan-born man who admitted to planning bomb attacks in New York, and five young American men from the Washington, D.C., area who were arrested in Pakistan.
Though he lived in the US for a decade, receiving an MBA from the University of Bridgeport, Shahzad spent his early years in Pakistan under the hard-line rule of Gen. Zia-ul-Haq, whose school curriculum bred religious intolerance and promoted militancy, the Monitor noted.
At the age of 27, he was already earning $70,000 in 2006 as an analyst at the Affinion Group, a financial marketing firm in Norwalk – three full years before his Times Square bombing attempt, according to The New York Times – which begs the question why he needed $12,000 from the Pakistani Taliban.