Life for Times Square bomber
NEW YORK – A Pakistani immigrant who tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square was sentenced to life in prison today by a judge who said she hopes he spends time behind bars thinking “carefully about whether the Quran wants you to kill lots of people”.
A defiant Faisal Shahzad smirked as he was given a mandatory life term that, under federal sentencing rules, will keep him behind bars until he dies.
“If I’m given 1 000 lives I will sacrifice them all for the life of Allah,” he said at the start of a statement that lasted several minutes. “How can I be judged by a court that does not understand the suffering of my people?”
Shahzad – brought into the Manhattan courtroom in handcuffs and wearing a white skull cap – had instructed his attorney not to speak, and United States District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum told prosecutors she didn’t need to hear from them.
“You appear to be someone who was capable of education and I do hope you will spend some of the time in prison thinking carefully about whether the Quran wants you to kill lots of people,” Cedarbaum told Shahzad after she announced his mandatory life sentence.
Shahzad, a 31-year-old former budget analyst from Connecticut who was born in Pakistan, responded that the “Quran gives us the right to defend. And that’s all I’m doing.”
“Shahzad built a mobile weapon of mass destruction and hoped and intended that it would kill large numbers of innocent people and planned to do it again two weeks later,” head of the FBI’s New York office, Janice K. Fedarcyk, Fedarcyk said in a statement. “The sentence imposed today means Shahzad will never pose that threat again.”
Calling himself a Muslim solider, a defiant Shahzad pleaded guilty in June to ten terrorism and weapons counts.
He admitted that the Pakistan Taliban provided him with more than US$15 000 and five days of explosives training late last year and early this year, months after he became a US citizen.
For greatest impact, he chose a crowded a section of the city by studying an online streaming video of Times Square, the so-called Crossroads of the World, prosecutors said.
On May 1, he lit the fuse of his crude, homemade bomb packed in a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder, then fled on foot, pausing along the way to listen for the explosion that never came, court papers said.
A street vendor spotted smoke coming from the SUV and alerted police, who quickly cleared the area.
At sentencing, Shahzad claimed the FBI’s interrogation had violated his rights. He also warned that attacks on Americans will continue until the US leaves Muslim lands.
“We are only Muslims . . . but if you call us terrorists, we are proud terrorists and we will keep on terrorising you,” he said.
He added: “We do not accept your democracy or your freedom because we already have Sharia law and freedom.”
The judge cut him off at one point to ask if he had sworn allegiance to the United States when he became a citizen last year.
“I did swear but I did not mean it,” said Shahzad.
She also reminded him that he was a failed terrorist.
Asked by the judge if he had any final words, Shahzad said, “I’m happy with the deal that God has given me.” (AP)