Vital clues gained from the sale of the SUV used in the botched Times Square bombing plot was the lynchpin in swiftly arresting Faisal Shahzad,the suspect in the case who is a naturalised US citizen of Pakistani origin,US investigators said on Tuesday. Authorities probing the plot also did not have to struggle much to catch Shahzad as they had his recent photograph from his immigration papers.
Shahzad,30,was arrested at JFK International Airport in New York on Monday night as he prepared to flee the country by boarding a flight to Dubai. The suspect was already aboard Emirates Flight 202 when he was identified by the Department of Homeland Securitys United States Customs and Border Protection,according to a joint statement issued by the office of Preet Bharara,the US attorney for the Southern District of New York; the FBI; and the New York Police Department.
Because of his recent change in residency status,authorities had his picture and were able to show it to the seller of the vehicle (SUV),who identified Shahzad as the purchaser, it said. An FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force had taken over the investigation on Monday.
The SUV used in the botched bombing plot,a Nissan Pathfinder had its vehicle identification number (VIN) removed from the dashboard. Police climbed under the SUV and retrieved the Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) from the bottom of its engine block. This,said the official,led investigators to the registered owner of the vehicle and then to Shahzad who purchased the SUV.
The Nissan Pathfinder had been sold two weeks ago in a cash deal with no paperwork exchanged,the report said. The US$ 1,800 deal was closed at a Connecticut shopping mall,where the buyer handed over the money and drove off,the report said.
A law enforcement official told CNN that the information gained from the vehicles sale was the lynchpin in the case. The report also said that Shahzad nearly made it out of the country. They just caught him at the last second, it quoted a source saying. Shahzad is now believed to be the person who drove the sports utility vehicle used in the attempted bombing of Times Square. Shahzad claimed to have acted alone in the attempted bombing,said another law enforcement source.
A federal law enforcement source said Shahzad had travelled to Dubai before,most recently in June 2009. He returned to the US in early April. New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has praised the federal and local law enforcement agencies involved in the investigation,saying their focused and swift efforts led to this arrest after only 48 hours of investigation. I hope their impressive work serves as a lesson to anyone who would do us harm, he said.