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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Suspect Caught in Times Square Bombing Attempt
Aired May 4, 2010 - 02:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Sometime to either do a (INAUDIBLE) and contact with other people and before this arrest was made. The fact that they caught him at the airport may -- would lead one to believe that they knew enough about him to know that he would be at least trying to board that plane and trying to take off for Dubai.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN SPECIAL INVESTIGATIONS UNIT CORRESPONDENT: Well, exactly. They knew before this guy got to the airport. In fact they probably knew -- I would assume we're going to find out that they knew perhaps within hours of this event that this man bought the car. That this man was the owner of that Nissan Pathfinder.
What we don't know is if he drove that car into Times Square. What we don't know is if he loaded that car with all these various stuff.
Keep in mind, there was 70-pound gun case placed into this car along with the fertilizer material, along with the two propane tanks.
We don't know, Don, if anybody else was involved in even helping him buy this stuff. If he indeed bought it or if somebody bought it for him.
Something very interesting happened today or at least we got word of. The actual physical car and the material that was put together to make this bomb was moved. The New York Police had it. They were looking at fingerprints, fiber, hair. This entire operation was moved to FBI's lab in Quantico.
Much more intensive search is now going on. Not to find out if this guy matches up with that stuff now. We've had this guy in custody. He is a suspect. What they're going to try to find out is who -- what other material could link to another human being. Are there other fingerprints? Is there other DNA connected with this vehicle that somehow brings in another human being that was involved with this?
I thought that was rather significant today that we learned that the FBI has taken over a lot of the forensics of what was left in Times Square.
LEMON: You know, Drew, they keep saying lone wolf, lone wolf. They don't believe that this was a lone wolf. And according to what you're reporting they believe that this may be much bigger.
And the fact that it first sort of gone, you know, to Rodman's Neck which is in the Bronx here in New York City, one of the five boroughs, and then now you say this car has been moved, you said, to Quantico. Correct?
GRIFFIN: Yes, that's right. We got that word from Richard Kolko, the FBI spokesperson, special agent here in New York --
LEMON: Yes. So you know --
GRIFFIN: -- that the vehicle was --
LEMON: You know, Drew, earlier I asked a security analyst whether or not he thought this was homegrown, or whether he thought it was an international event. And he said, you know, some of the clues behind it -- the devices they used, some of the equipment that they used, their techniques -- would lead him to believe that it was an international event.
But most -- many people you talk to in law enforcement say it really doesn't matter. And in some ways, in some ways, if it was a domestic event it's even worse because you don't really know where it's coming from. You don't expect it, I guess I should say, to come from Americans, to be honest.
GRIFFIN: Don, the only thing that matter, is, are there more people out there? Is there another device out there? Are these people now desperate to carry out whatever mission that they think they need to carry out before they, too, are caught.
I think that's -- that's the rush here.
LEMON: Yes. The question was, you know, if they had all these cameras, and they had all this information that they were releasing, what was taking them so long to arrest the suspect and, Don and Drew, it appears that they may have known -- it look like they did know -- a lot more than they were letting on to because they made this arrest not long ago at JFK, I believe it was a United Arab Emirates flight 202. JFK to Dubai.
It was supposed to depart at 11:23, but instead it departed or it departed without this gentleman -- Don.
DON RIDDELL, CNN ANCHOR: Thanks very much. Let's get right up to date now on what's exactly we know.
An arrest was made, as we were just hearing there, at JFK airport around midnight. In fact it was 11:23. It flight 202 from JFK to Dubai. The suspect who we now know as Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old U.S. citizen from Pakistan, was attempting to board that flight.
He is the man who bought the SUV that was found in Times Square over the weekend, fitted with a crude propane and gasoline bomb. He was named as a potential suspect just hours before his arrest. He bough the vehicle in a cash transaction for $1800 with no paperworks three weeks ago. The exchange was made in a parking lot.
Investigators are looking at more than one person in connection with this unsuccessful bombing.
Let's bring you the press conference that was given to us a short time ago by the Attorney General Eric Holder. He has with the latest details that we have.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Earlier this evening Faisal Shahzad was arrested in connection with the attempted car bombing into New York on Saturday.
Mr. Shahzad, an American citizen, was taken into custody at JFK Airport in New York as he attempted to board a flight to Dubai.
Since the plot was first uncovered on Saturday night, the FBI, prosecutors, intelligence lawyers in the National Security Division of the Justice Department which Mr. Chris heads, and United States Attorneys Offices in Manhattan and Connecticut, along with the New York Police Department, have worked night and day to find out who was responsible for what would have been a deadly attack had it been successful.
Over the course of the day today, we have gathered significant additional evidence that led to tonight's arrest, which was made by agents from the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection.
This investigation is ongoing, as are our attempts to gather useful intelligence, and we continue to pursue a number of leads. But it's clear that the intent behind this terrorist act was to kill Americans.
FBI agents are working with their state and local counterparts in New York, Connecticut and other jurisdictions to gather evidence and intelligence related to this case. We are also coordinating with other members of the president's national security team to ensure that we use every available resource that the United States has to bring anyone responsible to justice.
We continue to gather leads in this investigation, and it's important that the American people remain vigilant.
The vehicle in Times Square was first noticed on Saturday by a citizen who reported it to authorities, and as always any American who notices suspicious activity should report it to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
Now as I've said, this investigation is ongoing. It is multi-faceted and it is aggressive. As we move forward, we will focus on not just holding those responsible for it accountable, but also on obtaining any intelligence about terrorist organizations overseas.
Because of the fast-moving nature of this investigation, I am not able to make any further information public at this time. But the American people should know that we are deploying every resource available and we will not rest until we have brought everyone responsible to justice. (END OF VIDEO CLIP)
RIDDELL: And we understand that Faisal Shahzad will be making a court appearance later today. It is currently seven minutes past 2:00 in New York. That's seven minutes past 2:00 Eastern Time. So there's a few hours to go yet until that. But one assumes that when day breaks on the eastern coast, Mr. Shahzad will be making a court appearance.
We have correspondents and reporters bringing you this story. We're working on it from many angles. We have staff in New York, Washington, D.C., Connecticut and also Islamabad in Pakistan.
Let's bring in Jeanne Meserve from Washington, D.C.
Jeanne, I know you've been working hard to get more details. What more do we know?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN U.S. SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes, we know that Immigration and Customs Enforcement ended up playing a key role because this individual has recently become a citizen of the United States as we mentioned.
He was originally from Pakistan, a naturalized U.S. citizen. He only became a U.S. citizen in April -- April 17th, 2009. So very recently. Because of that change in status, Immigration and Customs Enforcement had a photograph. So I'm told by a law enforcement official that when this investigation turned up a particular name Immigration and Customs Enforcement was able to produce this photograph.
Investigators took this photograph to the man who sold that Pathfinder. They showed him the photo, said do you recognize this guy, he said yes, that is indeed the guy that I sold this car to. So that helped closed the link here and established that this was the individual that they were looking for.
I'm told that he had left the country quite recently. He had previously departed the U.S. in June of 2009. He returned on February 3rd of 2010 entering from Dubai but I'm advised that Dubai is very much a transit hub and that that might not have been his final destination.
I am also told by another law enforcement official that although he was boarding a flight to Dubai tonight his final destination was indeed Pakistan.
Back to you.
RIDDELL: That's interesting development, Jeanne. I know that the authorities aren't telling us much anymore but of course you have sources that are providing you with some albeit limited information.
Do they think this is an international plot at this stage, given the fact that this man was making his way to Pakistan and that is where he is from? Or do they believe this was a homegrown plot?
MESERVE: I think they are still looking at all the tendrils of this investigation. You heard the attorney general say that they were looking for any information about international terror organizations, that the investigation is very much ongoing.
I've been told by other law enforcement officials that of course they're running leads, they're looking for all the associates of this individual to try and to determine if he is the only one involved in this plot or whether indeed there are other individuals.
Obviously, at this point, only one arrest but that's not to say that there might not be more developments in the hours and days ahead.
RIDDELL: Jeanne Meserve, speaking to us live from Washington, D.C. Thanks very much, Jeanne.
And Jeanne was just saying that we understand now that the final destination of Faisal Shahzad was indeed Pakistan. He was attempting to depart JFK International Airport in New York. He was heading to Dubai on board Flight UAE 202 which was departing on Monday night at 11:23 p.m.
That flight in the end did depart but minus one passenger. Faisal Shahzad has been in U.S. custody for about two hours and 10 minutes about -- at this stage. In fact closer to 2 1/2 hours.
We understand that he is being processed and will be helping the authorities with their investigation. But this investigation covers many states now and possibly even more than one country.
Let's bring in Deborah Feyerick who is joining us live from Connecticut. Connecticut is the state of the East Coast where this car was bought and sold about three weeks ago.
Deborah, what more do you have?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, we have a couple of new details, Don. We can tell you that, in fact, the suspect Faisal Shahzad is right now in custody and is being questioned.
He's been questioned for close to two hours now. We are told by a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation that in fact he was on board that plane, that Emirates Airlines Dubai bound flight. He was sitting on the plane and was taken off that plane.
So that is under investigation -- how he was able to get that far on board that plane and they are looking at that very, very closely. This may not have been a planned trip.
RIDDELL: And what more do you know about the exchange that took place three weeks ago?
FEYERICK: Well, what we're being told is that, in fact, he answered an ad on Craigslist. The seller was offering a Nissan Pathfinder 1993, and he answered the ad whether by phone or by e-mail. And they met in the parking lot of a grocery store. At that point they agreed to exchange the car for $1800 and he took charge of the car. He registered the car and, you know, Don, this is a way that you can buy a car almost anonymously because if you've got the car and you've got the registration papers, well then it's up to you to then go and get new plates and register the vehicle.
It appears that that was not done. In fact he was able to get a license plate. He or somebody he was working with able to get a license plate from a scrap yard from another vehicle that was there.
We walked along the edge of the scrap yard and really it's very easy to get into. There are some locks but the gates really aren't fool proof. You can climb over at one part the fences, then you can climb under. So it's easy to access that scrap yard and get the license plate.
But again this only happened just three weeks ago. How long they were preparing these materials, how long it took them to put it together, all that is under investigation -- Don.
RIDDELL: Now it's only really for the last 45 minutes or so, Deborah, that we've been able to report this man's name, Faisal Shahzad, but I know you've been aware of it for some part of the day. And you've been, as it were, investigating his trail.
Have you been able to find out anymore about where perhaps he lives and whether this was his main residence in the U.S.?
FEYERICK: Well, as a matter of fact, what we're being told is that he lived in Shelton, Connecticut, that he was living in a home but it appears that the home that was last under his name, that he hasn't been living there according to the neighbor for about a year.
Whether the house was foreclosed on or why the family moved, not clear, but he must have stayed in the area because he purchased the car, he took the license plate. All of that really just within a 10- mile radius from the home where he was living, apparently, with his wife and two children as what we're being told right now.
RIDDELL: OK. Deborah Feyerick, thanks very much for bringing us the latest from Connecticut.
Let's return to Islamabad in Pakistan where our man Reza Sayah is following developments for us there.
And, Reza, the key development since we spoke a few minutes ago is that we understand that Faisal Shahzad's final destination was indeed Pakistan. He was attempting the United States on Flight 202 -- UAW Flight 202 from JFK. It was scheduled to leave at 11:23 p.m. He was actually on board the plane but was removed from the plane and taken into custody.
What response, do you think, will be the one from Pakistan given that we now know or we now understand that Pakistan was his intended destination?
REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, as of 11:15 a.m. Tuesday morning and people here in Islamabad and throughout Pakistan are waking up to this news and I think the last thing Pakistani government officials wanted to hear was this attempted bombing in Times Square, New York City was in any way linked to Pakistan.
But indeed it appears to be the case earlier today. Attorney General Eric Holder identifying the man arrested as Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistan-American.
We spoke to a government official earlier today and it's no surprise that he tried to distance Pakistan or the Pakistani link from this investigation. The government official telling CNN and referring to Faisal Shahzad, this man is no longer a Pakistani. He's an American. And if he is guilty, he should be punished.
He added it doesn't matter where these people are from. They're all terrorists and they should be punished.
So obviously this is an effort by this Pakistani government official to downplay the Pakistani link. But the fact remains that over the years, especially after 9/11, Pakistan has been a sanctuary, a safe haven, for a variety of militant groups.
You look at right now, what you have in Pakistan is the Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan Taliban that are seeking refuge along the Afghan border. You have Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, al Qaeda.
As Washington's position right now, the Obama administration has said it over and over again, that right now that al Qaeda is in Pakistan's tribal region along the Afghan border plotting the next attack on U.S. soil.
It is much too early to say if this man, Faisal Shahzad, is linked to any of these militant groups but look for that question to be focused here in Pakistan, as much as the focus does shift from New York to Pakistan now that this information Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani- American, on his way back to Pakistan, arrested at JFK -- Don.
RIDDELL: Reza, thanks very much.
If you're just joining us here, it is 2:17 a.m. Eastern Standard Time. Within the past couple of hours U.S. authorities have arrested Faisal Shahzad , a 30-year-old U.S. citizen from Pakistan following the failed bombing in New York's Times Square early on Saturday evening.
Mr. Shahzad was on Flight UAE 202 departing JFK bound for Dubai. He was expected then to continue and complete his journey in Pakistan. Faisal Shahzad was actually on the plane which was due to depart shortly before 11:30 p.m. local time on Monday night but he was removed from the plane, has been taken into custody, and we understand that he is being questioned for around about two hours now.
Clearly this investigation is fast-moving at this stage. The U.S. attorney general Eric Holder made it quit clear that he believes there are more involved in this plot. They have significant leads, as he put it, and their investigation is ongoing and it is an aggressive investigation. We have correspondents and reporters bringing you this story from New York, Washington, D.C., Connecticut, Islamabad, as you've just seen with Reza Sayah. And we also have Tom Fuentes, the former FBI assistant director who joins us on the line now from Colombia.
Tom, good to speak to you again. How much pressure, do you think, there's going to be on the authorities to wrap up this investigation quickly?
TOM FUENTES, TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, there's been pressure since Saturday night to wrap it up but that doesn't mean they're going to do anything foolish. They're going to be very meticulous, do the work that they do with all of the FBI, other federal agencies, ICE, New City Police Department, all of the JTTF members.
All of our counterparts around the world, the U.S. working partners are going to be wherever the leads take them.
So it's not that the investigation is going to shift to Pakistan. This is going to be -- you know, part of the expanded universe of what have to be covered. His phone records will lead them, you know, possibly all over the world. His Internet records when they get them.
Those will all take time to obtain many of these records and when they have them, that will spawn additional leads. So I think that -- you know, the pressure will not affect how in terms of -- if they're working as intensively as possible because they don't want to leave other subjects out there who may still be trying to do an attack.
So that would be what drives the intense of the investigation is to make sure that they get everybody who was involved in this into custody if there's more than one person involved.
RIDDELL: Tom, since we last spoke, we've heard that the suspect was actually on the plane strapped in and ready to depart for Dubai. What does that tell you about what the authorities were doing that they let it get to that stage and let him actually get on the plane before making their move?
FUENTES: I think they were waiting clearly for the absolute last second to see if someone else joined him on that flight. I think that's why they would have gone ahead, let him board the plane.
They probably had already notified the captain that they were not going to take off, that there was going to be a police action on that flight. But to let everybody go ahead and board and see if there was one last-minute additional subject that joined him on that flight.
Then they would have, you know, at least one more or more associates of his. So that's what it tells me. I think they would normally want to let him get on the flight in case there's a scene or a disturbance or he resists arrests.
You know they didn't want to endanger other innocent passengers, but on the other hand they were probably trying to wait until the last second to see if he was joined by others. RIDDELL: And why would they perhaps not have let him get to Dubai or complete his journey and just tail him and watch him? Wouldn't they have got more out of him that way?
FUENTES: Not necessarily. It could be hard to get him back. You're relying on other authorities and other countries to do your work, and just to try to keep him into custody. And at the same time, the hope now would be, first of all, don't let him get out of a situation where he'd be in custody.
And then secondly, he may choose to cooperate. So the fact is, if they've been talking to him for two hours, a good part of that time would already be the booking procedure -- taking his photograph, his fingerprint, DNA samples to compare to the evidence obtained from the explosive device and the vehicle.
But beyond that, that normally wouldn't take the entire two hours so it's possible -- I'm not saying it is true but I'm saying it's possible that he could be wanting to make a statement and if that's the case, they're not going to want to interrupt the rhythm of that by putting him in a car and driving him to downtown Manhattan to lock him up there.
So that's a possibility that he's cooperating to some extent. Now he may not be saying anything truthful. He may not be saying anything at all. But that may be the indication of why they continued the interview process at the airport.
RIDDELL: Tom, we know that this man was pretty fresh on the radar, so to speak, having become a U.S. citizen within the last year, pretty much. And Don Lemon said something interesting just a few minutes ago which really caught my attention.
He said that some of the people he'd been speaking to within the investigation recognized this man simply from the CCTV footage around Times Square. What does that tell you?
FUENTES: You know, I had not heard that so I'm not sure exactly, you know, how that was. You said it appeared that the pictures from Time Square were clear enough for that. But a lot of times once you have a subject identified and you're showing photographs that you already have, you know, the process of becoming a U.S. citizen, let's say, it's sometimes earlier to go back and say oh yes, look, that's him.
But to pick him -- you know, of course when those photographs were being shown early Sunday -- as early as Saturday night, Sunday morning, you know, the authorities did not have a clear indication of who that was.
And of course, they didn't know either the person taking the shirt off in that video -- you know, how sure they were that he actually was the one that got out of that car. So I think Commissioner Kelly spoke about that that they were still trying to verify that all that was true.
RIDDELL: Tom, it's been made pretty clear by the attorney general that there was more than one person involved in this plot. Of course more than one person, by definition makes it a plot.
What's your gut feeling? Is this an international incident or a domestic one?
FUENTES: Well, I think -- it's not just domestic. It's international in the sense that he obviously had ties overseas -- family ties or other relationship probably with the people from the country he came from or from Pakistan.
So -- but when you're saying international plot, you know, you're implying that al Qaeda or the Taliban or LeT or one of the other Pakistani groups was behind this. That they authorized him or trained him or dispatched him to commit this act in the U.S. Now that may prove to be true, but that's certainly not established now.
When the U.S. government and the FBI refer to domestic terrorism or domestic plot, they're usually inferring that someone that's been born and raised in the United States that becomes radicalized. Then they refer to that as homegrown or someone who's been radicalized to become a jihadist and they're talking about an American, U.S. born person. Not someone who just came over and became citizen one-year ago.
So -- and also in terms of the organization, a domestic terrorist group would be something like the Klu Klux Klan or a white supremacist group or other hate groups that are U.S. citizens or U.S. born persons who want to do terrorism in the United States for their own political purposes.
As opposed to individuals who are from other countries and have relatives or friends in other countries around the world and have an international background.
RIDDELL: Tom, thanks.
For now there would appear to be more than one person of interest in this case. More than one location of interest. The focus now, to some extent, will move to Pakistan as we have been saying. Also Connecticut where this car was bought and sold. And of course New York City. The intended target of this attack at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday evening.
Don Lemon joins us now from our CNN New York bureau.
Don, what more do you have?
LEMON: I want to tell you -- I want to just clarify something. I know that you spoke with the general and Mr. Fuentes, and you said I don't think that when they saw the video that they recognized and knew who this person was immediately.
I think that that video, according to investigators and security experts -- that video helped them to identify the man so they may have known who this man shortly after looking at video or shortly after this incident took place or within -- just within the last couple of days. The interesting is, and again I'm hearing from security people, is that they believe that they had surveillance on this man once this video and all the other clues help them to identify this person. And that he by going to the airport and trying to get out of the country, whether or not he was on the plane -- again that is unclear. He may have been on the plane, he may not have been on the plane. But we know he was arrested at the airport.
But by going to the airport and trying to flee the country, they believe that they forced investigators' hands because they think that investigators were going to follow him for a while to see if there were any other people who might have worked in conjunction with him.
If he did get on the plane, they may have wanted to see who else was going to get on the plane with him. But again it's not exactly sure -- we're not exactly sure if he was on the plane, if he's off the plane. We're trying to get clarification on that.
But also I have one source saying that he believes specifically that there are going to be other arrests or other people who are going to be brought in in connection and question with this. We keep hearing about this lone wolf. Some of our sources are saying that they don't believe that this person acted alone and others do.
But if they did arrest him at the airport, if he was getting on the plane, the reason they did allow him on the plane -- if that is indeed the case -- is because they wanted to see, and I think Drew Griffin will agree with me, if he, if he was going -- who else was going to come on that plane with him and if there were going to be other co- conspirators.
Drew, can you attest to that?
GRIFFIN: I mean certainly did he -- you know, right before you're leaving do you make that one final call to that one person and say hey, I'm on the plane. Could that be a person that the police then would be interested in?
I think, you know, Tom Fuentes has the experience here in saying that, you know, they wanted to use this guy to the best of their ability, allow his actions to lead them to a potential -- another suspect, a potential person that helped him along the way. And it certainly does make sense what Tom said about seeing if anybody else boarded that flight with him.
Kind of an escape plan that they may have had, Don. But obviously we know of just one person now in custody. And from the very, very brief statement that Eric Holder gave, we know that this investigation is very active.
LEMON: Hey, Drew, I want to -- something you and I talked about which I found that was very interesting, Drew, is that this person was out of the country, in Dubai, what, for nine months back from 2009? What was it, June of 2009 to February of 2010?
What might -- what would you garner from that? What might you glean --
GRIFFIN: Well, I think it's the most interesting information we've had in the last hour or so. And this comes from Jeanne Meserve with our homeland security. This guy is naturalized on April 17th, 2009, Don. He then two months later leaves the country to Dubai.
And remember Dubai is probably just a transit point, but we knew he leaves the country and heads to the Middle East in June of 2009. He doesn't come back until just a few months ago in February. So for the bulk of that time after he's become a naturalized citizen, he is out of the country where he's become naturalized in.
He comes back here and two months later he's involved in this potential bombing down in Times Square. That is very interesting to me and then certainly is going to be an avenue of investigation.
Whom did he talk with? Where was he overseas? Was he involved? Was he listening to anybody overseas? Did anybody overseas tell him what to do?
You know we've had this in many cases most recently the underwear bomber who was over in Yemen and they basically used this guy and said, hey, go see what you can do, and they had that crude underwear bomb they put in his -- on him and sent him over.
So there's all this kind of potential avenues for investigation that are going to be needed to be checked out, along with seeing who he was dealing with here in the United States. But it just was very interesting to me that for the last year, the bulk of his time was spent overseas.
LEMON: Hey, Drew, real quickly, we want -- we know we have our international viewers here, but let's talk domestically just have our international bureau but let's talk domestically just for very quickly here. We've been hearing a lot here in the United States, war on terror, not a war on terror with the president and obviously there's going to be some back and forth politically about that. As our investigative reporter, where do you see this heading, especially when it comes to the political angle, the White House. You see the attorney general, the president's attorney general 1:30 in the morning out giving a press conference. Where do you see this going? Are we ramping up this so-called war on terror and you think those words will come back into the vernacular?
GRIFFIN: That is a political question you're asking me. Personally, the war on terror is and has been going on. It is a war. Many of the people that I deal with who are fighting this war on terror, will call it a war on terror and they'll let the politicians decide whatever they want to call it. But it is a war. People are trying to attack us from inside and out and they are being dealt with with the best of our abilities, both domestically, that would be civilian law enforcement and internationally in a variety of different ways, including what you may consider acts of war, the (INAUDIBLE) tax in other countries trying to attack these terrorist people who want to kill Americans as Eric Holder said today. LEMON: And as the mayor said the night this happened, not long after it happened Drew, he said those who resent the freedoms that we have here and want to take them away, New York City and America is a target. So Drew Griffin, thank you very much.
I want to throw it back to you Don, just interesting Drew Griffin and I sitting here talking at least domestically trying to figure out where this story is going, so internationally, I'm sure you can handle that part of the story.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Of course, well a very international story of course. I mean the attorney general making it quite clear that the point of this attempt and attack was to kill Americans. But as you well know, Times Square in Manhattan is a very international location. There are many tourists there from all over the world frankly at all times of the day, enjoying restaurants, enjoying the theaters there. It is always a very, very busy part of Manhattan. International of course in the other regard that this man was a U.S. citizen, but from Pakistan. He only recently became a U.S. citizen within the last year. He was attempting to leave the country within the last couple of hours on a flight bound for Dubai. He was apprehended at JFK Airport and taken into custody. Let's bring in Reza Sayah who is in Islamabad, Pakistan for us and Reza, whether the Pakistani government likes it or not, some of the focus of attention is now on them. Have they any reaction?
SAYAH: Well, Don, they're not going to like this news, but the bottom line according to Attorney General Eric Holder, there is a Pakistani link with the arrested Faisad Shahzad. We are getting more governments' reaction. We now have reaction from the office of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, (INAUDIBLE) the advisor to the Pakistani president telling CNN we can then all form of terrorism if the man arrested is proven to have some involvement in the New York Times Square failed bombing, we are sure that he will get the justice he deserves.
Just a couple of minutes ago, I got off the phone with a spokesperson for President Asif Ali Zardari, Mr. (INAUDIBLE) telling me it is unfortunate that this man is from Pakistan. It is much too early, Mr. (INAUDIBLE) told us, in the investigation, but it is Pakistan's position that we are prepared to help anyone in the international community in the fight against militancy and extremism. Mr. (INAUDIBLE) also telling CNN that he has contacted the foreign office, the foreign office here in Pakistan, is monitoring the situation back in New York. According to Mr. (INAUDIBLE) he has not been contacted by U.S. officials, U.S. investigators for Mr. (INAUDIBLE) telling CNN right now, it's too early to say what kind of cooperation is going to be offered to U.S. But you can be sure in the coming hours, in the coming days, the U.S. officials U.S. investigators will be contacting officials here in Islamabad, Don.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: : Reza, knowing the relationship as you do between the United States and Pakistan, would you expect Pakistan to wait until they're asked for more information on this man or do you think they will perhaps offer it up in any case. SAYAH: I think you'll see more of what we've just heard over the past few minutes. They're are going to be open to comments. They're going to be supportive like the president's spokesperson and the president's advisor have been. They're going to say we're here to help. They're going to wait for a call that's surely going to come and when they're going to move forward. Over the past few months, despite a rocky relationship between Islamabad and Washington over the past few years, over the past few months, there have been indications that these two government are working better with one another. You have military officials from the U.S. visiting Islamabad frequently. General Petraeus, the regional commander of U.S. forces was here this week. So look for these two governments to cooperate one another as this investigation moves forward Don.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Reza Sayah with the latest from Islamabad, Pakistan. Let's bring you right up to date on what we know. Within the last couple of hours, Faisad Shahzad, a 30-year old naturalized U.S. citizen of Pakistani origin has been arrested at JFK Airport in New York. That arrest taking place very late on Monday night just over 2 1/2 hours ago. The suspect was trying to leave the United States, attempting to make a flight to Dubai. Law enforcement officials tell us though that his final destination was Pakistan. Investigators are looking at more than one person is connection with the unsuccessful bombing as you know by now, a Nissan SUV was rigged with a crude propane gasoline bomb that was set to go off in Manhattan's very busy Times Square early on Saturday evening. Thankfully, the bomb did not explode. And investigating teams now have a treasure trove of information with which to pursue their suspects.
Let's bring you latest now from the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. He addressed the media in Washington, D.C. at 1:30 in the morning local time just a short time ago. Here's the latest from him.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: Earlier this evening, Faisal Shahzad was arrested in connection with the attempted car bombing in New York Saturday. Mr. Shahzad, an American citizen, was taken into custody at JFK airport in New York as he attempted to board a flight to Dubai. Since the plot was first uncovered on Saturday night, the FBI, prosecutors, intelligence lawyers in the national security division of the Justice Department, which Mr. Criss (ph) heads and the United State attorney's offices in Manhattan and Connecticut, along with the New York police department, have worked night and day to find out who was responsible for what would have been a deadly attack had it been successful.
Over the course of the day today, we have gathered significant additional evidence that led to tonight's arrest which was made by agents from the Department of Homeland Security's customs and border protection. This investigation is ongoing as are our attempts to gather useful intelligence and we continue to pursue a number of leads. But it's clear that the intent behind this terrorist act was to kill Americans. FBI agents are working with their state and local counterparts in New York, Connecticut and other jurisdictions to gather evidence and intelligence related to this case. We are also coordinating with other members of the president's national security team to ensure that we use every available resource that the United States has to bring anyone responsible to justice. We continue to gather leads in this investigation and it's important that the American people remain vigilant. The vehicle in Times Square was first noticed on Saturday by a citizen who reported it to authorities and as always, any American who notices suspicious activity should report it to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.
Now as I've said, this investigation is ongoing. It is multi-faceted and it is aggressive. As we move forward, we will focus on not just holding those responsible for it accountable, but also on obtaining any intelligence about terrorist organizations overseas. Because of the fast-moving nature of this investigation, I am not able to make any further information public at this time. But the American people should know that we are deploying every resource available and we will not rest until we have brought everyone responsible to justice.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Pretty uncompromising words from the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder there. He didn't have terribly much to say. That was a pretty brief press announcement that he made at 1:30 in the morning just over an hour ago. But he did give us the details of the man arrested, Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year old U.S. citizen from Pakistan. Since then we have been hearing more information pertaining to this case and we're going to head now to Washington, D.C. and bring in Jeanne Meserve. Jeanne, I know you have a lot of experience in reporting stories concerning homeland security and customs and border protection and they were significant tonight in this operation.
MESERVE: That's right. It was customs and border protection that took him into custody. I should say that on Sunday, we were told that CBP had been put on a higher state of alert at the airports. They had -- they were coordinating with the TSA about the possibility of doing additional secondary inspections on certain flights and identifying flights that might need further inspection. In addition, immigration and custom enforcement, another component of the Department of Homeland Security, turned out to have played an important part in part because as Drew mentioned, this individual had so recently become a U.S. citizen, only in let me see, April of 2009 had he become a U.S. citizen. When that happened, photographs were taken. They're put on file so when this individual's name surfaced, they actually had a photograph that they could go to. They took that photograph. They brought it to the man who sold the car to that individual on craigslist. They showed it to the seller, said does this look familiar? And he identified it as the buyer of the car, this according to a Federal law enforcement official.
Now the other interesting fact is the fact that he left the country for such an extended period of time, about eight months. He'd left in June of 2009, went to Dubai, came back in February of 2010, again coming from Dubai, but officials with whom I've spoken have pointed out that Dubai is a major transit point and he many well have had another destination. In addition, we do know that he is going to be in court tomorrow. He's going to appear in Federal court in Manhattan. The time of that appearance has yet to be determined. Back to you.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Jeanne, do we know what this man was doing while he was outside the country? As you say, he was in Dubai for eight months or at least he was outside the United States for eight months and then he returned on February 3rd. Any idea what he may have been doing abroad?
MESERVE: I'm not hearing anything yet. You can bet that that's exactly what investigators want to zero in on. I look back at the case of Naji Bulazazi (ph), the shuttle driver from Denver, who allegedly was trying to detonate an explosive in New York subway system. He did leave the country. He went over to Pakistan, the government says and he was in training camps over there, learning how to make bombs. So you can bet they are trying to determine if Shahzad indeed had any of the same kind of training, if he did go to Pakistan or some other country, whether or not he was meeting with any known terrorists or known terror groups, whether or not he's receiving any kind of training from any of those groups in bomb making or in anything else. We simply do not have the answers to those questions yet. It's unclear whether or not the Federal government has those answers.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Jeanne, we know that Faisal Shahzad was attempting to board a flight to Dubai, the flight a UAE 202 was intended to depart JFK at 11:23 p.m. on Monday night. Do you have any further details regarding the arrest? We heard the possibility earlier on that he might actually have been on the plane itself. Either way, he was apprehended at JFK. Any more details?
MESERVE: I've heard conflicting information. Some of the information is that he was on the flight, other that he may have been apprehended before that. One law enforcement official with whom I was speaking said it may have been intentional if he got on board that flight. They may have wanted to see exactly who he might be meeting up with when he got on that flight or there's the other possibility, that at a screening checkpoint or somewhere else in the process, they had simply missed the name. Clearly they had been provided one and that he had gotten through and gotten on the plane and then someone realized oh my gosh, that's the guy we're supposed to be stopping. We don't know exactly what the story is yet. We're trying to get some clarification on exactly where he was when he was taken into custody.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Now there is some debate as to whether this man could have been pursued beyond the United States and whether that would have provided him with any more clues. As you understand it, who would have made the call to make the arrest at the time that it was made. Would it have been the homeland security customs and border protection or would it have been a higher authority?
MESERVE: I imagine it would have been a higher authority than customs and border protection and I think they wanted to make sure they got him. If they knew he was going to leave the country, they wanted to make sure they got him here so they could charge him here. If he left the country, they might have trouble getting their hands on him again, but I'm fairly confident that it was not those people, the customs and border protection, but it was somewhere higher up the chain, perhaps at the Justice Department. Perhaps the White House also weighed in on this.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: OK, Jeanne Meserve with the latest from Washington, DC, thanks very much. Let's bring in Tom Fuentes again. Tom is a former FBI assistant director and Tom, we do now have a pretty significant connection shall we say with regards to Pakistan. This man was a Pakistani before he became a U.S. citizen just over a year ago. We understand that he was heading to Pakistan last night via Dubai. How do you think the U.S. authorities now will conduct this investigation with regards to Pakistan?
TOM FUENTES, TERRORISM ANALYST (BY TELEPHONE): Well Don, before I retired from the FBI 1 1/2 ago, I ran the office of international operations and was responsible for all of the FBI's 75 offices around the world and (INAUDIBLE) an office in the United Arab Emirates capital Abu Dhabi which then would be responsible for investigation in Dubai and that includes the FBI office in the U.S. embassy in Islamabad. So the lead material would be transmitted from probably a secure video conference from Washington, DC to New York office, (INAUDIBLE) to the FBI agents in Islamabad, given the biographical (INAUDIBLE) about Faisal and then setting the way (ph) for them to go to the Pakistani authorities and request their assistance on obtaining background data about him.
They would obtain all this information and because it was a terrorism investigation and we would expect prosecution in New York City probably, there would be asking the police authorities in Pakistan to conduct the investigation on behalf of the United States, obtain intelligence and evidence on behalf of the United States so that it could be transmitted from Pakistan back to New York probably for the prosecution. But the investigation in this case, the FBI is the lead agency for terrorism investigations and has gave (ph) offices, the 75 legal attache offices around the world. Those offices would be working with their host country counterparts to obtain the assistance from those countries. And we get assistance from them and the FBI does have and I've traveled there and met with Director General (INAUDIBLE) Pakistani national police and there is an excellent cooperative relationship with police in terms of working these investigations together.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: As our correspondent in Islamabad, Reza Sayah has been saying, this information really is the last thing the Pakistani government would have wanted to hear. Understanding international relations as you do, how cooperative would you expect the Pakistani government to be?
FUENTES: Well, they're certainly going to be very cooperative. They are not going to want to be in a position to be even further criticized. I mean I would say they're not proud of the fact that this individual came from Pakistan. But they certainly don't want to make it any worse by being uncooperative or not helping this investigation. And I think as mentioned in terms of some of the difficulties politically between the United States and Pakistan, there's many different levels of operations going on in that country, military, intelligence and law enforcement operations and sometimes there's been some criticism if you will that maybe the Pakistanis haven't been aggressive enough in some ways or haven't done as much as the United States would like them to do. But in terms of the law enforcement part of it and working with police, they have been cooperative and in this situation, it's going to be the police that are responsible for conducting the investigation in Pakistan, of providing the results of that investigation to the FBI in Islamabad and to the Department of Justice officials who will send that back to the United States to be used in the prosecution.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Tom the attorney general made it quite clear that they are pursuing more than one person in this case. How many people do you think would be required or what would the bare minimum number of people be required to actually try and pull off something like this?
FUENTES: Well I think since Saturday, you're going to have hundreds of agents looking at this and possibly as it fans out to other agencies around the world, there may be 1,000 investigators working on this right now. So looking at the possibility that --
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: But in terms of the number of people that may have been involved in a plot.
FUENTES: Well, it could be one, two, 10, that's hard to tell. What they're doing from the start -- and again, don't forget they've had pretty much the identity of this individual since I believe Sunday morning. When they talked to the person that sold the car in Connecticut, from that point on, they had the subject on their radar to try to track down and I don't know exactly when the surveillance -- when they finally located him and placed him under surveillance. But the intent was to follow him and allow the rest of the investigation to progress, to try to identify the subject. So they would be trying to learn there was two, five, 10 -- probably not more than five or six, my guess as to the maximum.
But it could be any number of people and what they would be trying to do from the start, once they've identified him, is then issue subpoenas to the telephone company, the Internet service providers, if he had Internet accounts and examine the records of those accounts and you can obtain (ph) those records can take some time. Possibly if they haven't identified a cell phone that he was using, probably obtained emergency electronic surveillance authority to monitor that and determine who is he following? How many different friends, where are they? Are they all in New York? Are they throughout the United States? Are they overseas as well?
Every person that he would have called as far back now as they're going to track his records, is going to be someone that the FBI and the police are going to want to interview as to the nature of their relationship with him. So it will be extensive. It doesn't mean that there's going to be 500 subjects in the case. So it just means that every single subject will be located to be interviewed to determine the nature of their relationship with him and what he may have discussed with them, whether he may have told someone else of his intention or his dislike for the United States or any other lead (ph) material could lead them to even other people. So the investigation is going to be very extensive as well as intensive.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: You're right, Tom Fuentes with his insight there, Tom Fuentes, the former assistant director of the FBI and of course in a case like this, you really cannot afford to leave any stone unturned. If you're joining us just now, let's bring you the latest as we have it. A 30-year old U.S. citizen from Pakistan, Faisal Shahzad has been arrested at JFK International Airport. Faisal Shahzad was attempting to leave the United States for Dubai and ultimately then on to Pakistan. He was apprehended late on Monday night at JFK. This follows the attempted bomb plot in Times Square, Manhattan New York as you are by now well aware and this Nissan Pathfinder car was packed with explosives and left in Times Square in Saturday, early on Saturday evening in New York.
And let's go to New York now where CNN's Don Lemon has been listening in and Don's been on this case since the beginning of the weekend. Don.
LEMON: Hey Don, listen, as you and Tom were speaking there, Tom is saying the exact same thing that a security analyst is telling me and what this analyst believes, he believes they -- he says the FBI already knows who this man contacted. He said it's not easy to pull the wool over the FBI's eyes. And here's what he's saying. He's saying they know, they want to find out everyone that this subject contacted, even here in the United States and they said at no point now, it doesn't really behoove investigators to arrest anyone that they believe might be in contact or might have been in contact with the suspect because they're going to try to get as much information from them as possible as long as they don't become a flight risk or as long as they don't try to do some other type of incident or break the law in any other way, blow up something else. They will let these people go free and try to get as much information as possible from them. He says this is a continuing, ongoing investigation.
Now everyone has been trying to figure out what is it? Is it international? Is it domestic? Here's what he says. He says whatever this will be deemed as an international act of terrorism or not, is based upon who he has contacted outside of the country, who is supporting him, who is paying for this? Who is paying for his transit? Who paid for the materials and the car? And once they know that, they can deem whether or not this is an international event. Again, they said, they know everyone he has contacted in Pakistan. They are keeping the information he says close to the vest.
Now if he did this alone, if he did this alone, and there was no international influence, because he is a national, he is a U.S. national or a Pakistani national, then it will be deemed a domestic act. Also they said, even if he had gotten out of the country, he'd gotten out of the country, the U.S. government and law enforcement would have gone there to get him. He said they have done this before. They have done this before.
So again, they say, they're keeping it close to the vest, but they believe they know just about everyone outside the country that he has contacted and they believe that they had known who this man was for a time now, for a while now, which is why they were able to trace him to JFK Airport and they have been watching him as Drew has been saying, as Tom Fuentes has been saying, watching him to see who he came in contact with so that they could garner and glean as much information about this at all, as much information about this as they can. So again, investigators do have their hands full, but in many ways, I think they knew more than they let on and that's how they work and that's how they get their suspects.
They let out just as much information as they think will help them, some surveillance video, some information about the suspect so that they can get more information from people who may know him Don. So this is really just the beginning. But if there are other people who are involved in this, I'll tell you this. There's no reason to arrest them unless they are going to create, at least try some other criminal act or unless they become a flight risk. Don.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: Absolutely, Don. As you've just been speaking we've heard a new piece of information regarding the flight that Faisal Shahzad was hoping to take to Dubai. And as you have suggested, we've had pretty limited information from the authorities really within the last 24 hours. But -- and there has been conflicting information regarding that flight, UAE 202 from JFK to Dubai. We had reported earlier that that flight had actually left. We understand now from the airline's website that the flight has actually not departed and remains on the apron at JFK. Don, I'm just wondering if I can ask you how New York and how Manhattan has responded to this. Of course they're the victim of an absolutely horrendous terror attack on 9/11 and was once again the subject of an attempted attack on Saturday evening. How are New Yorkers dealing with this?
LEMON: Absolutely. Listen, I'm going to get to it Don, but let me tell you real quickly why because that information came from a source who emailed me, saying that you reported that he was on the flight and the flight was to have left at 11 -- was it 11:23 and I said that the flight left and he said, no, the flight hasn't left so it appears that our folks here at CNN have checked on that. Here is what I'm being told. The flight was supposed to leave at 11:23. Now the departure's been moved back to 2:30. It is now 2:56 east coast time and now from now, it has been moved back to 4:30 east coast time, 4:30 a.m. and it still hasn't left and they are doing that to ensure that nobody else of interest is on that flight.
How is New York City reacting? I have to tell you, I walked around today and people are going about their business as Mayor Bloomberg told them to do shortly after this plot was foiled. Don.
UNIDENTIFIED CORRESPONDENT: New Yorkers sure are resilient. Don Lemon, thanks very much. I'm sure we'll be speaking to you again throughout the evening. If you're joining us, let's just recap on the significant developments following the failed bombing attempt in Times Square on Saturday evening. Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year old naturalizede U.S. citizen of Pakistani origin has been arrested at JFK airport late on Monday night. The suspect was trying to leave the United States, trying to fly to Dubai and then onto Pakistan. Law enforcement officials tell us though that his final destination was indeed Pakistan. Investigators are looking at more than one person in connection with the unsuccessful bombing. We are going to continue our live coverage of this story. We are getting details throughout the evening. Stay with us here on CNN.