The Pakistani immigrant who tried to detonate a car bomb on a busy Saturday night in Times Square accepted a life sentence with a smirk yesterday and warned that Americans can expect more bloodshed.
“Brace yourselves, because the war with Muslims has just begun,” 31-year-old Faisal Shahzad told a federal judge. “Consider me the first droplet of the blood that will follow.”
His punishment for building the propane-and-petrol bomb and driving it into the heart of the city in an SUV in May was a foregone conclusion, since the charges to which he pleaded guilty carried a mandatory life sentence.
But the former budget analyst from Connecticut used the courtroom appearance to rail against the United States, saying the country will continue to pay for occupying Muslim countries.
“We are only Muslims trying to defend our religion, people, homes and land, but if you call us terrorists, then we are proud terrorists and we will keep on terrorising you until you leave our lands and people at peace,” he told US District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum.
Shahzad – brought into the courtroom in handcuffs – had instructed his attorney not to speak, and Cedarbaum told prosecutors she didn’t need to hear from them.
Shahzad smirked when the judge imposed the sentence. Asked if he had any final words, he said: “I’m happy with the deal that God has given me.”
Afterward, the head of the FBI’s New York office, Janice K. Fedarcyk, cited evidence that Shahzad hoped to strike more than once.
“The sentence imposed today means Shahzad will never pose that threat again.”
US Attorney Preet Bharara called Shahzad a “remorseless terrorist who betrayed his adopted country”.
Calling himself a Muslim soldier, Shahzad pleaded guilty in June to 10 terrorism and weapons counts. He said the Pakistan Taleban provided him with more than US$15,000 ($20,000) 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 section of Times Square, prosecutors said. On May 1, he lit the fuse of his crude bomb packed in a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder, then walked away. A street vendor spotted smoke coming from the SUV and alerted police, who cleared the area.
The attempt set off an investigation that culminated two days later with investigators plucking Shahzad off a Dubai-bound plane in New York.