NEW YORK // FBI agents pulled a Pakistani-American suspected of the botched New York car bombing off a plane in a dramatic arrest as he tried to flee the country, officials said yesterday. Michael Bloomberg, the New York mayor, praised the swift work by the police in tracking down the man suspected of trying to detonate the bomb in New York's Times Square theatre district on a busy Saturday night.
The suspect, Faisal Shahzad, 30, was taken off an Emirates Airline plane to Dubai by agents and police at New York's John F Kennedy Airport and was scheduled to appear in court later yesterday. Mr Bloomberg said that militants would fail to cower residents and tourists in "the greatest city in the world" and warned that he would not tolerate any backlash against Muslims or Pakistanis living in New York.
The operation capped 48 frantic hours in which the anti-terrorism agents and New York's police department and Counterterrorism Bureau swarmed over a mass of clues left with the failed bomb inside a dark green Nissan Pathfinder on Saturday. The burning question now is whether the suspect, if he was the bomber, acted alone or as part of a more serious plot with links to jihadist groups already targeting the United States.
Investigators had not established an immediate connection to the Pakistani Taliban, which had claimed responsibility for the botched bombing in three videos, or any foreign terrorist groups, a law enforcement official said. "He's claimed to have acted alone, but these are things that have to be investigated," the official said. The attorney general, Eric Holder, said the probe was ongoing and was also targeting information on "overseas" terrorist groups.
The FBI searched Mr Shahzad's home in Bridgeport, Connecticut as part of the investigation. According to US television news reports, the suspect lived in Connecticut and had recently returned from a five-month trip to Pakistan and the city of Peshawar, where he had a wife, according to law enforcement officials.
Court records show that Mr Shahzad defaulted on a US$200,000 (Dh734,000) mortgage on a home in Shelton, Connecticut, and that the property is in foreclosure. Chase Home Finance sued Mr Shahzad in September to foreclose on the home. The foreclosure records show Mr Shahzad took out the mortgage on the property in 2004, and he co-owned the home with a woman named Huma Mian. Agence France-Presse with Associated Press