Pakistani-born U.S. citizen Faisal Shahzad has admitted trying to set off a car bomb in busy Times Square and will face terrorism and mass destruction charges, Attorney General Eric Holder said Tuesday.
"Based on what we know so far, it is clear that this was a terrorist plot aimed at murdering Americans in one of the busiest places in our country," Holder said.
Shahzad is being questioned and has provided useful information to investigators, Holder said. The FBI read Shahzad his constitutional rights after he provided information, and he continued to cooperate, FBI Deputy Director John Pistole said.
Authorities tracked down Shahzad using the vehicle identification number on the Nissan Pathfinder that failed to detonate. They linked that number to a recent sale in Connecticut, Holder said.
Once they identified Shahzad, authorities placed him on a federal air travel no-fly list. He was arrested late Monday night aboard a plane bound for the United Arab Emirates.
President Barack Obama said Tuesday that the FBI was investigating Shahzad's possible ties to terrorist groups. Officials would not say whether they believe the suspect acted alone or as part of a conspiracy.
Shahzad became a U.S. citizen in April 2009 after passing the required criminal and national security background checks.
He was not known to the U.S. intelligence community before the failed bombing attempt in New York City, and there was no derogatory information about him in terrorism-related government databases, said one U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity as the investigation continued.
Other law enforcement officials familiar with the inquiry say investigators plan to go through Shahzad's citizenship application line by line to see if he lied about anything. He became a citizen in Hartford, Conn.
On Monday, Shahzad made a flight reservation on the way to John F. Kennedy International Airport and paid for his ticket in cash, federal officials said.
Shahzad was aboard an Emirates flight bound for Dubai that had left the gate. It was called back so authorities could arrest him.
Associated Press writers Matt Apuzzo and Eileen Sullivan contributed to this report.
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