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CNN BREAKING NEWS
Suspect Captured in Times Square Bombing Attempt
Aired May 4, 2010 - 04:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: And breaking news is investigators have arrested a man they believed is responsible for trying to blow up at least part of Times Square on Saturday night, driving an SUV and parking in front of a theater there, in front of a crowded theater, and then putting explosives inside and trying to ignite it. But it failed.
Tonight, police arrested the man on a flight to Dubai. They believed he was headed to Dubai midnight tonight. That flight still has not taken off from JFK Airport. It should take off in about 30 minutes.
They were checking the flight for other people who may have been involved with this man, 30-year-old Faisal Shahzad - Faisal Shahzad from Connecticut.
As a matter of fact, our Deborah Feyerick is standing by in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Deborah, where are you and what's going on?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, we are in Bridgeport, Connecticut. We're on Sheridan Street. We are told that this is the last residence they believe that Faisal Shahzad lived.
We can tell you there's a lot of activity going on right now. We are seeing people in FBI jackets. There were - there was a lot of police that cordoned off the entire area, setting a perimeter. It took us a couple of minutes to get to the site.
They're bringing in huge trucks right now, the FBI, and sort of a convoy of people that are going in right now. It's unclear what they're doing. My producer, Sheryl Stephens (ph), she saw earlier a bomb squad going near the house, so it looks like right now that part of the investigation, in this area anyway, is certainly being taken over by a very heavy FBI presence.
And, again, we're seeing there's a caravan of cars go to that location. So, clearly, they are likely going to begin a search of that property, a small property here just near Bridgeport, Don.
LEMON: OK. Stand by, Deborah Feyerick.
Listen. We have just some new information and I want to get to our special investigations correspondent, Drew Griffin, in just a moment, because Drew has some - some information that he has - has just confirmed. I want to give our viewers just sort of a timeline of what - what happened here.
Here's the latest development in this Times Square bomb investigation. Faisal Shahzad, 30 years old, arrested JFK Airport in New York City, 11:45 - 11:45 this evening, shortly before midnight, in connection with that Times Square bombing investigation.
He prepared to board a flight to Dubai. That's according to the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, who held a press conference at 1:30 - about 1:30 Eastern Time.
A law enforcement source who has knowledge of this investigation said that Shahzad had already boarded the Dubai flight before being arrested. That flight was United Arab Emirates Flight 202. It was supposed to leave at 11:30, and then, again, it was rescheduled to leave at 2:30. And then, now, it's scheduled to leave at 4:30, just about 30 minutes.
But what they were doing was trying to check that flight to make sure that there were no other people onboard who might have some connection.
Shahzad is the person, according to our Drew Griffin, that they believe drove that Nissan Pathfinder into Times Square. Drew Griffin, your sources are telling you that. They're also telling you the big clue in all of these was the VIN number where they find it.
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE UNIT CORRESPONDENT: Yes, very interesting.
The engine block, you know, most of us don't think it's there. They - we think it's on the dashboard. Actually, it was removed from the dashboard of the Nissan Pathfinder, but detectives were able to climb underneath that car, get the VIN number, probably very quickly, and were able to begin - get the balls rolling, as it will, to trace that back.
Really, it kind of plays out almost the same as - as how they solved the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, because that, also the tip was pivotable (ph) - pivotal when they got the VIN number off of the rental van, and that led back to a contract and - and there you go. They were able to track down these people. So it's kind of like history repeating itself.
LEMON: And it was - and it was the same source of material. I - I remember here. I was just a young buck here, as the assignment editor at a local station, when that happened. But the same sort of material drove into the garage and that left a huge crater in the World Trade Center, Drew. So, this device could have caused a whole lot of harm.
GRIFFIN: Yes. I - I must tell you, I don't know much about the making of - of that World Trade Center bomb, 1993. I do know a little bit about this bomb, and it didn't have anywhere near the capacity -
LEMON: Right. GRIFFIN: -- to blow this up, especially since the fertilizer, now we're being told, would not have exploded. It was a wrong type of -
LEMON: No ammonium nitrate --
GRIFFIN: Sure. Right.
LEMON: -- yes, in that fertilizer. This one and, I believe, according to your sources as well, some of your reporting, saying that it could have caused, you know, death, a lot of destruction, but it could probably would not have brought down a building.
Hey, Drew, stand by. I think Deb Feyerick is standing by.
Deb, are you there?
FEYERICK: Yes, Don. I'm here.
LEMON: Deb, I understand you have some new information regarding where the suspect is and whether or not he's cooperating.
FEYERICK: I do have some additional information.
About 3:30 this morning, I'm told that he was - he finished questioning out of JFK Airport by federal agents and he was brought into Manhattan. It's not clear whether he's bring brought to FBI headquarters or whether they're going to put him at one of the correctional facilities.
But I am told by a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation that apparently Faisal Shahzad is claiming he acted alone. Now, that's something obviously that federal agents are going to be looking into very, very closely, because there is a possibility that there was somebody with him.
The way these guys usually work is that everybody's got a different role, everybody's got a different part, and they all do what they're supposed to if we get these things to go off. So that is being with (ph) very closely. But, again, apparently, Shahzad is claiming that he acted alone.
LEMON: OK. Deb Feyerick, stand by. I want to go to Tom Fuentes now, who is a security terrorism analyst, a terrorism expert. What do you make of the information that Deb Feyerick is reporting? He is saying now - he's telling investigators that he acted alone.
TOM FUENTES, TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, I'm a little bit surprised that information would be coming out publicly about what exactly he is saying, but, you know, it seems to me that that would be pretty close hold (ph) and the nature of the information that are (ph) going out already out of the interview room, if you will.
So, you know, it's possible. That's what the investigation (INAUDIBLE) determine through - through all of the rest of the (INAUDIBLE) and the rest of the analysis of his phone records and internet communications, et cetera, to determine whether or not he had assistance.
I think someone reported earlier that that metal box weighed 200 pounds. That would be pretty difficult to put that in the backseat all by yourself. So, again, you know, the investigation will have to determine whether he had accomplices or not. It wouldn't just be based on what he tells investigators.
LEMON: Drew Griffin, you sort of alluded to that earlier when you said it's going to be interesting to see, you know, who may have helped him out - and maybe unwittingly helped him out, because as Mr. Fuentes said, to put that type of box or to put some of the stuff in your car, you can't physically do it by yourself.
GRIFFIN: Yes. Tom, you and I are kind of - I think the box weighed 70 pounds, I think what Commissioner Kelly said, and then it contained a fertilizer which added the weight, but certainly you can carry that in.
But still, even a 70-pound box - a gun case, if you know what a gun case looks like. It's a large -
GRIFFIN: -- like a safe-like thing, is difficult to manage just one person doing it. And it would certainly be difficult to do this out of sight of anybody. You know, even if you do have a garage, you have to start bringing this stuff into that garage. So that is interesting.
And the other thing, Tom, that is very interesting to me is, OK, let's say he did act alone, but what was his inspiration? What inspired him? Was he listening to somebody? Was somebody oversees, telling him what to do - a spiritual adviser or - or some group saying, hey, you want to join our club? Why don't you do this by yourself and we'll see if we let you in?
I think those are the kind of things that, as we move along down the road, would be very interesting to find the answers to.
FUENTES: Right. And he could have just talked to somebody familiar with the plot that's occurred in London a couple of years ago where the Pakistani medical doctors attempted to detonate propane tanks in sort of a - I believe a discotheque, with one car and then later drove a second car into the airport, which ignited and burned the occupants to death at the Glasgow, Scotland Airport.
So, you know, maybe he just learned about that and thought, oh, I could do that. You know, that's not - that can't be that hard. Or maybe he was surfing the internet and came across a website that talked about how to make that type of bomb and it may have looked easier, you know, on the internet than it did in person to try to do it.
I mentioned earlier, I talked to some explosive experts that said that it's very difficult to wire propane tanks to explode because they're designed to not explode. Otherwise, more people would get killed barbecuing in their backyard with those tanks.
FUENTES: So they're designed to have safety valves built into them and that you'd really have to know what you're doing to wire it correctly to explode as opposed to light it and just have it burning -
LEMON: Hey -
FUENTES: -- which apparently it started smoking and that sort of alerted the authority.
LEMON: Mr. Fuentes, I hope I'm not asking you something that's outside of you bailiwick, can you talk to us about possible charges for this? And the reason I ask is because the attorney general held a press conference at 1:30 - just after 1:30 Eastern Time here in - in the United States and he said the defendant will appear in Manhattan Federal Court, 500 Pearl Street, 5th Floor, New York - New York, New York on May 4th, which is today, 2010, at a currently undetermined time to be presented on formal charges. No further details about the charges at this time.
What do you think the charges will be if - if I'm not asking you something that you don't - would know about?
FUENTES: Well, there's a wide array of terrorism-related charges, explosives-related charges that he could be - he could be brought on. I think what will happen probably as just - as a matter of a clerical problem, if there are clerical challenge in terms of typing up all the charges that could be brought in time for that initial appearance, they may just bring one or two charges initially.
It could be enough to have him detained, you know, and they'll be telling a magistrate that obviously - he's obviously a flight risk because if he intends to get on an airplane and leave the country, that would be pretty self evident for them to demand him to custody. In other words, not allow him to post bond pending his trial.
FUENTES: And then - then they'll have time to actually, in the days ahead here, determine from the investigation and that, you know, the rest of the course has been done, to determine exactly which charges and actually take the time to write all the charges off (INAUDIBLE) they could have - you know, they'll have to be drawn up and typed up and copied and filed, and then it takes personnel to do that and it takes a little bit of time.
So, for now, they'll do enough - with a serious enough charge or multiple charges to just be able to have him remain and remain in custody.
LEMON: So, listen, this press conference, are we to read anything at the timing of this press conference, because some - some experts are saying that the attorney general and - and law enforcement did it because they wanted to do it when people were asleep or under the cover of darkness, if you will, so that they can still have time to maybe investigate who this suspect may have been working with, because if they don't know, it gives them more time. And by the time they wake up tomorrow morning -
FUENTES: Well, I think -
LEMON: -- investigate it maybe outside of their homes.
FUENTES: Don, I think that's kind of (ph) absurd. I think that's absurd.
If he hadn't held a press conference until tomorrow morning then they'd say the administration is hiding and why are they hiding and weren't they out there and they're asleep (INAUDIBLE). I think those kinds of allegations are just idiotic.
The public wanted to know. There was tremendous media inquiry into what was happening, but subjects have been identified. That was starting to come out there in the afternoon hours and into the evening hours.
So, I think that once that person was arrested, he did the right thing in informing the public this is what we have. We have a subject in custody and put that (INAUDIBLE). But I think that any - anything that's been - that would have been deemed inadequate from his - from a standpoint of what he's supposed doing, to tell the public about the case.
LEMON: Tom Fuentes, stand by. Drew Griffin, stand by.
As we mentioned, the attorney general of the United States made the announcement 1:30 Eastern Time here in the United States. Here's what the attorney general had to say. It was short, but very strong words.
ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL, UNITED STATES OF AMERICA: Earlier this evening, Faisal Shahzad was arrested in connection with the attempted car bombing in 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. Kris heads, and the United States 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 - 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 multifaceted 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.
And 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.
LEMON: That was the attorney general of the United States holding a press conference just after 1:30 Eastern Time here in the United States.
Tom Fuentes, we have heard a source say that this - this gentleman or this man is saying that he acted alone. It doesn't appear, if you listen closely, though, to what the attorney general is saying - they're not taking any chances.
They believe that there is a possibility that he's not acting alone and that it could be - it could be international. We don't know at this point. But they don't believe, at this point, if you listened to the - to the attorney general, that he acted alone.
FUENTES: Right. Right.
The attorney general isn't saying we've got a person, you know, have a nice day. He's saying everyone will be brought to justice. The investigation is ongoing and intensive, and counterparts all over will be - will be working with U.S. authorities and - and with the FBI directors (ph) and task force.
So I think it's pretty clear as I'm hearing wording of the - of the release that - that the possibility exists and they're looking at it from a standpoint that others were probably involved. But that doesn't mean (INAUDIBLE) believed that others were involved. But it certainly is likely, is a possibility, and you want to leave no stone unturned and make sure that - that everyone that might be involved is identified and will pay their (INAUDIBLE). LEMON: Hey, listen, Tom. Drew Griffin brings up a very, very good point. He and I were talking as we were playing that press conference.
Drew, tell Mr. Fuentes what you were talking to me about, when we're talking about the Miranda rights.
GRIFFIN: You know, Tom, we were weighting into the politics of this whole situation and how it will be dissected by political parties of both sides.
But, I was just mentioning to Don that there will be none of that questioning issue that came up when the - the underwear bomber, Umar Abdulmutallab, was initially not read his Miranda rights and then he was Mirandized.
This - we're dealing with a citizen of the United States now who has all the legal rights that every citizen has. They have read him his Miranda rights and they've offered him an attorney or the ability to call an attorney at this point, correct?
FUENTES: Right. That's exactly right. And, in this case, as you said, he's a United States citizen. This act occurred on United States soil, and the expert that should be handling it are handling it.
And I just - I've raised the question before, what is the track record for another agency or another department such as the Military to take over a case like this? What successful track records that they've had when in criminal prosecution, terrorism prosecution, the Department of Justice has convicted over 300 individuals, many serving life without parole.
But when you're talking about World Trade Center One or (INAUDIBLE), the 1998 embassy bombings in Africa where about 50 people were brought back to New York and successfully prosecuted. The domestic terrorism case with the Blind Sheikh and the plot to blow up tunnels and bridges in New York a couple of years ago.
Case after case after case, it has been shown that the FBI and the Joint Terrorism Task Forces are the right agency to do the investigations, the right individuals to be doing the interviews and attempt to get information and evidence from the individuals involved. And the Department of Justice has the expertise among its prosecutors to actually paint (ph) the convictions and have these people sentenced to prison.
So, the end view (ph) - the people are bringing up this point that somehow there's some other magic that should be done are just ill informed. And the other issue is that even in a situation, if you would return the subject over to, say, to the Military for prosecution, they have to follow the constitutional guidelines. They would have to do the same observance of his right that would occur if he remains in civilian custody at the Department of Justice.
They are not allowed to do that, and they haven't had a major case actually that stand the Supreme Court test for, you know, being able to get away with the so-called enhanced observed interview or interrogation techniques that were used a few years back.
So, I think that, you know, to make that kind of claim is just - is not smart.
LEMON: Hey, listen, guys. More information - new information coming in, and I'm going to want both of you to weigh in on this.
Number one, that flight that this man boarded, United Arab Emirates Flight 202, supposed to leave at 11:23, pushed back to 2:30, pushed back to 4:30. Now, it's pushed back to 6:00 A.M. Why are they doing that? We'll talk to Tom Fuentes about that on the other side of the break.
Also, I'm just being told Bridgeport, Connecticut Police will hold a press conference in just about 10 minutes. That's why our Deborah Feyerick is stationed in Bridgeport, Connecticut this morning.
More on both of those aspects, those angles of the story coming up moments away. Don't go away.
LEMON: All right. Breaking news here on CNN.
You're looking at a live picture from Bridgeport, Connecticut, and you're looking at reporters, photographers, producers setting up there because Bridgeport Police about to hold a press conference at any moment.
They're going to talk to us presumably about 30-year-old Faisal Shahzad. Faisal Shahzad, the man arrested in connection with that foiled bomb plot in Times Square on Saturday evening.
Now, listen, we were talking before the break about this press conference, and as soon as it happens, we're going to go to it.
We're talking about the flight on which this man was arrested, Flight number 202, UAE Flight 202 from JFK to Dubai, happened 11:45. Members of the Joint Terrorism Task Force went onboard, we're told arrested this man, and then they are taking him now downtown to Manhattan and - so that they can question him. He is answering questions.
Our Deb Feyerick doing some reporting here - excuse me, saying that the man is telling investigators that he acted alone.
So, listen, I want to bring Tom Fuentes back in. Tom, this flight was supposed to leave at 11:23, then again rescheduled to leave at 2:30, then 4:30. Now, 6:00. We're hearing from sources that they did this because they wanted to check everyone onboard that flight to see if they had any connection with Mr. Shahzad.
FUENTES: Right. And I'm not surprised that - that they're doing that to make absolutely sure that he didn't have another associate in a pre-planned escape plan to meet him on that flight and leave with him. And I also wouldn't be surprised that they had decided to just take everyone off that flight, do additional secondary screening on each passenger, reexamine the carry-on luggage and the check luggage and made sure that that flight is - is absolutely safe. And then make sure that they've cleared, you know, every passenger as much as possible from not being an associate --
FUENTES: -- and make sure that the flight is safe and that there's no one else on that plane that's a person of interest or a suspect and - before they allow that flight to take off and leave the U.S.
LEMON: Hey, Tom, can you stand by for a minute? Because I want to bring in our Homeland Security Correspondent, Jeanne Meserve.
Jeanne, you have some new information for us.
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Yes. This information coming to me from a federal law enforcement official who says a search warrant is being executed right now in Connecticut in connection with this case.
He also goes on to say that Shahzad was not only onboard that flight to Dubai when he was apprehended, but the jet way had been pulled back from the jet. A quote from this official is, "they just caught him at the last second."
He goes on to say that media coverage alerted Shahzad that authorities were putting pieces of the puzzle together and contributed to his decision to try to leave the country. This official does not know if Shahzad was the individual that we saw in that videotape. If you remember the videotape of an individual in an alley right - right next to Times Square who appeared to be taking off a piece of clothing and perhaps looking in the direction of that Pathfinder.
I don't know if it's the same individual, but this law enforcement official believes that the key to cracking the case was the car sale because they were able to exploit information --
MESERVE: -- in connection with that, which led them to Shahzad. That he said was the lynchpin in this case. There's the video I was talking about just a short time ago.
LEMON: Yes. Hey, Jeanne, great information. Pleas take our viewers back - back through it because you were talking about a search warrant being executed right now in Connecticut. Talk to us more about that.
MESERVE: I wish I had more information on you (ph). That's all that my source told me. We do know that he lived in - in Connecticut, but we don't know. This official, in the very brief conversation I was able to have with him, wasn't able to flesh that out for me at all.
LEMON: Yes. Jeanne, stand by. Tom, the jet way had been hold back from this plane, and you heard our Jeanne Meserve. They got there just in time before this plane was - was going to leave with him onboard.
FUENTES: This suspect now - w e still don't know that, because this suspect was under very close surveillance by a number of very expert surveillance personnel, who you would not know you were being followed if - if they were on you.
They might have allowed that to happen, allowed the - the jet way to pull away to see if at that point he felt free, that he was home free and going to be able to leave the country safely and then maybe try to communicate with someone else on the plane. And maybe at that point if somebody -
LEMON: And maybe to isolate - to isolate the plane - to isolate the plane, possibly, so that no one - you know, there was less access for people to get out or if there were some sort of commotion - I'm just guessing with that. But it would be easy, I would think -
FUENTES: No, they're still trying to - at that point, they're still trying to determine whether he's going to make contact with somebody else, so maybe they were letting that play out all the way to letting the door be closed so that they could see if maybe at that point he gives a signal to somebody else. Like, hey, we made it. We're out of here. We've done it.
And, you know, to see if that happened, to see if something - to communicate to with somebody on that flight. That would be my guess as to why they allowed it to go that far.
He was not giving them a slip. He was not going anywhere, believe me. He was under full cover. You know, that plane was not ever going to take off with him on it. So it was just a question of - for investigative purposes to allow it to play out that far.
And then, now, you know, just to go through, to be extra cautious to go ahead and re-screen the passengers and probably the luggage as well to determine that no one else is on that plane that was of interest to him.
Also, with regard to the search warrant comments that Jeanne just made, that would be standard procedure. So if they're rolling up the hazardous material trucks and the bomb tech equipment and they're going to conduct a search with the idea that there might be more tanks, fertilizer, wires, explosive material, they would get a search warrant in the first place to do that type of investigation. And that's a kind of equipment they would do and set a perimeter to make sure the public is safe.
And, again, in an abundance of caution is why they would do that and roll that much equipment out and - and make sure the public is protected while they do that.
LEMON: All right.
Hey, Tom, stand by. Drew Griffin, stand by. Our investigative unit correspondent, Jeanne Meserve, stand by.
You've heard all of these folks talk about how this man was caught, Faisal Shahzad, 30 years old. There were so many clues, including the VIN number to the truck. There were photographs, surveillance video taken at the scene, then the transaction trying to sell or at least having bought this SUV on craigslist. An IP address led to him as well.
But what's really going to play an important role here as Drew Griffin pointed out, that VIN number that they found and also the surveillance video that they enhanced. Can we get the picture of Bridgeport, Connecticut, the live picture of Bridgeport, Connecticut? As I talk to you about this, I want to tell you in Bridgeport, Connecticut we are awaiting a press conference from investigators there to talk about presumably this gentlemen and exactly what his connection is to that community and what they're doing there now. We're waiting for a press conference there.
We will bring that to you as soon as we get that. That should happen within the next couple minutes. But I want all of you, Tom, Jeanne and Drew to look at this and we can talk about it. Earlier today, I walked around with a security expert around Times Square to look at some of the cameras and some of the precautions and preventative measures they've put into place after 9/11 and what this person says, it would be hard for them not to know who the suspect is when you consider just how much surveillance is in that area. Take a look.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: Whoever did this is bound to show up, at least the car, on one of these cameras. Are you willing to be that?
LOU PALUMBO, SECURITY EXPERT: Well, we actually know if fact we've got the car crossing the intersection of 45th, 7th Avenue and Broadway. The next part of this equation Don is how we're going to locate him when he became a pedestrian and abandoned that vehicle.
LEMON: You said 45th and Broadway.
PALUMBO: Seventh and Broadway correct.
LEMON: That's where we are right here. This is 45th Street.
PALUMBO: That's correct sir. This is W. 45th we're coming upon.
LEMON: Chances are, was it this camera or one like it that picked it up, do you know?
PALUMBO: It could any number of cameras. You know, as you continue to walk the streets, you bang into them. This is a nicely saturated area with cameras.
LEMON: You know what I think is interesting, there was a guy changing his clothes and the mayor said, he listen. We have the naked cowboy who's performing right behind us right here. MAYOR MICHAEL BLOOMBERG, NEW YORK: It was a hot day. Maybe he was just changing his shirt and this is Times Square where you have the naked cowboy.
LEMON: We have the naked cowboy, so we're not sure if it means anything that this guy was changing his clothes, but we do at least have it on camera.
PALUMBO: That's correct and really what they're looking for at this point is suspicious or unusual activity.
LEMON: So this is right here where it was parked, near where the vehicle was parked, so you'd not only be at the cameras and you'd have it going over 45th Street on 7th Avenue. But then you've got this one here as well.
PALUMBO: What we call redundancy.
LEMON: And you like that.
PALUMBO: Absolutely. I'm a big fan of redundancy. I'm a big fan of layering. The safety aspect of this city deals with layering also, the same way it does when you do an event. You layer. You layer. You create rings.
LEMON: We're glad you guys are protecting us.
PALUMBO: There's a saturation of law enforcement here to begin with just in uniform presence without talking about those that we're not seeing.
LEMON: We're standing here, this guy, the guy who's the manager, the owner of Juniors (ph), center of attention now because that one little camera in that corner caught the guy who was taking off his T shirt and changing. There's another camera under this (INAUDIBLE) sign right here. There's another one right here under this sign and then one behind us under the parking sign.
LEMON: So what does that tell about this area?
PALUMBO: It tells you that this is very heavily surveilled (ph) by cameras.
LEMON: Just looking up here to see where there are cameras and --
PALUMBO: It's difficult to conceive that a person got off, got out of the vehicle on W. 45th Street there and was not picked up based on the number of cameras you and I just saw that are proprietary to businesses. We're not even talking about New York City installed cameras.
LEMON: You're telling me they've seen this guy.
PALUMBO: My opinion is they know this man's face. That's my opinion. (END VIDEO CLIP)
LEMON: All right, I want to bring in now Sajjan Gohel who is with the Asian Pacific Foundation. He joins us from London. Sajjan, third plot against the United States in four months. What does that say to you?
SAJJAN GOHEL, ASIA PACIFIC FDN. DIR FOR INTL. SECURITY: What worries me is that this is no longer the old type of al Qaeda terrorism where individuals would be imported into the United States to carry out an attack like the 9/11 atrocities. This time the intention is to recruit individuals domestically, to be able to blend into the civilian fabric of society primarily if they can be U.S. citizens. So the Times Square plot just now, also Nidal Hassan, who carried out the Fort Hood massacre and then if possible, bringing individuals that have actually been educated in the west like the Christmas day plotter last year.
This worries me because of the fact that these individuals won't necessarily have a criminal record. They will be members of society. They are hard to detect or monitor. They won't necessarily be communicating with a large network. This makes the job for law enforcement all that much harder.
LEMON: I'm glad you brought up that point, because I said the fact that -- and I think Drew Griffin alluded to this earlier, the fact that there was no information. He didn't have any priors as we say here in the United States. Law enforcement didn't know about it. And then he took the time to become a naturalized citizen just to sort of get the heat off him, just to sort of blend in and I guess the concern is, maybe and probably he's not the only one.
GOHEL: This is the ongoing concern and challenge for the authorities in the United States. I remember when I was visiting Washington several years ago, many felt that the U.S. will not have the same problem that Europe has because its citizens are integrated. They have a sense of identity and nationality which is being American, that they don't have the problem of being susceptible to ideologies that are extreme or radical. But it almost inevitable that with the technology of new media, the Internet, the fact that radical clerics can spread their message through this technology, it can have an impact.
It can create a psychological reaction and you will have individuals like this in the future. The fact is that the U.S. has always been a target for terrorism. It has been partly because of the good work of the law enforcement agencies and intelligence that major plots have been thwarted. But perhaps that's been the problem of the terrorists, that they've been thinking too big. If they think smaller, if they think more basic type of terrorism, they might be more successful and it's only luck that frankly prevented a huge atrocity in New York.
LEMON: And Mr. Gohel, you talk about technology, but technology makes it easier to spread the word and for them to get information. But it also makes it easier really to catch people if you look at some of the information that came. We just did a tour through Times Square with the cameras, radiation detectors, all of those type devices and if you look at the sale of this vehicle on craigslist, an IP address, the VIN number. That's also computerized and on and on and on. So while it may make it easier to spread the message and spread the word, it also makes it easier to catch them.
GOHEL: I would also say a lot of that credit has to go to the law enforcement agencies in the U.S., especially the FBI and the New York police department. The NYPD for example actually have people stationed abroad at embassies like in London who monitor events, see how counterterrorism agencies in the UK conduct their activities. The recent plot in New York for example is eerily similar to a plot that we had in the UK in London in 2007 where individuals parked two cars in the city center timed to go off. The devices did actually detonate and it was very similar to what we saw just now in New York itself. So the law enforcement agencies are always monitoring the situation. They're trying to enhance their technology, their ability to be able to detect and monitor terrorist-related activity. So it's a game of cat and mouse. They're having to constantly catch up with what the terrorists are potentially planning. But you have to bear in mind that the authorities have to be lucky and successful 100 percent of the time. Terrorists just need to be lucky once in order to inflict huge casualties.
LEMON: Very well put Mr. Gohel. Stand by. I want to bring in our Drew Griffin. You heard what Sajjan Gohel is saying from the Asian Pacific Foundation about the technology and about -- he said they only have to be -- get their act together or do it once in order for them to complete their task. This has been your reporting Drew. What do you make of that?
DREW GRIFFIN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I just want to bring up a difference between perhaps Europe and the United States and maybe you can tell me about this. But the human intelligence, the FBI, the joint terrorism task force, the way that they can not infiltrate communities across the United States, but get to know communities across (INAUDIBLE) get them to trust the police, is a little different in the United States than it is in Europe and I know for a fact that that kind of communication, that dialogue has thwarted and stopped and actually prevented many, many attacks in this country and I think what concerns me about this attack sir, is that nobody knew in the community apparently enough about this guy to alert authorities that they should be looking at him.
GOHEL: Well I would say that that definitely has been a difference in the past. The authorities in the UK have worked over the last few years to try and improve relations with the community, that we can provide a source of information and certainly if you're looking at the wider al Qaeda orchestrated plots, intelligence is often the key because these individuals are compartmentalized. They won't even tell their own families what they're planning. It's something that is kept very covert. With the case of lone wolf terrorism, individuals that are acting independently, self radicalized, they're not part of a wide infrastructure, often the community can play a very important role and in the sense of plots that have taken place in Great Britain, the community has worked with the police and the authorities to be able to ascertain which individuals might become potentially radicalized.
The thing with the U.S. is that what worries me is that there are now shades of what we've seen in the UK, that the U.S. in many ways is going to experience what the UK has had to face which is terrorism that may be potentially imported, but more likely individuals that have been born and brought up within the United States, second, third generation. Those could be led to believe, potentially radicalized, that are going to be influenced by an ideology, by individuals like radical clerics, like Anwar al-Alaki (ph) who knows how to tap into the American mindset, especially those that are from ethnic Diasporas and it's the fact also that more and more Americans are now traveling abroad, perhaps for terrorist-related purposes. You have the alleged north Virginia cell as an example of that. The U.S. is potentially going to now face very similar types of terrorist-related plots that the UK has had to deal with in the past.
LEMON: We're going to talk about that. That's a very interesting point you bring up Sajjan Gohel (INAUDIBLE) with the Asia Pacific Foundation joining us from London giving us a very, very unique perspective on this. Also with this, our special investigations correspondent Drew Griffin. And I want to tell you that Bridgeport, Connecticut, there you see live pictures. We're awaiting a press conference to happen shortly here. This is where the suspect is believed to have lived, where he did business, conducted business at least with buying an SUV, that SUV that really was rigged to be a bomb in Times Square on Saturday night. What will investigators tell us about this and why is the flight on which he boarded, why hasn't it taken off yet? Were there people on board who might have had contact with them or a connection with him? We're going to try to answer all of that for you after the break, breaking news here on CNN.
LEMON: Welcome back everyone, breaking news coverage, almost 5:00 Eastern time here in New York City here on the east coast. We're coming to you live. We have been reporting all evening on the arrest of the man believed responsible for that failed plot, that bomb plot in Times Square. We're also going to tell you the live pictures that you're looking at right now, Bridgeport, Connecticut. That is where the 30-year old man is believed to have lived. His name is Faisal Shahzad, Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year old man, a Pakistani national from here in the United States. Saturday night, investigators believe he drove a dark green SUV into Times Square and tried to turn it into a bomb. They arrested him trying to at least on board a flight 1145 last night Monday night, very close to midnight, 12:00 a.m. Tuesday morning, arrested him on a United Arab Emirates flight that was supposed to leave at 11:23, pushed back to 2:30, then again to 4:30 and now we're told 6:00 a.m. and we're also told they are checking that flight to see if there are people who might be involved with this man, this man doing business in Connecticut, buying that SUV from a woman there through craigslist, craigslist part of the information that helped to track him down. They traced an IP address.
Our special investigations correspondent Drew Griffin telling us that they had shaved the VIN number off of the dash, but little did they know possibly that VIN number is on the motor. Drew Griffin joins us right now as well as Sajjan Gohel, who is with the Asia Pacific Foundation. He joins us from London. Giving us some very interesting information before the break. Drew, I'm sure you've heard it, where he said the U.S. may become susceptible to attacks like in Europe and other countries in the near future. What do you make of that?
GRIFFIN: Well, obviously, I hope not and I don't think it will get to that, maybe that's just my American optimism. But we don't have the same kind of society that is in Europe where the Muslim community is mostly segregated, has not been integrated into the community. I flew on a flight today. Just before the flight, a man was laying down his prayer rug and saying his prayers and another guy was talking Spanish on a cell phone, sounded like to his wife. We all live together in this country and you don't have these isolated and segregated pockets. Saying that, I think what he is also saying though is you can self isolate yourself and in these cases, we have seen these groups kind of just become a cell within themselves, a community within themselves. They don't even talk to their own family members as they kind of self radicalize together. And I think that is a fear that we could be headed towards. But as far as the widespread problems that Europe has, I just -- I really hope not. I hope he's wrong.
LEMON: Hey Faisal Shahzad, excuse me Sajjan Gohel, stand by because we're going to get some more information on Faisal Shahzad. We're going to go to Connecticut now and our Deborah Feyerick who is covering that part of the story. Specifically, we're going to go to Bridgeport where they are about to hold a press conference. What are you seeing there Deb?
DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT (BY TELEPHONE): Well, Don, we know that the press conference is going to brief. It's going to be by a spokesperson from the FBI. About 4:00 this morning, (INAUDIBLE) a huge convoy of FBI agents and (INAUDIBLE) teams made its way down this little road here to the home, what's believed to be the last known address of Faisal Shahzad. Right now, they're inside, a huge perimeter, Bridgeport police, when we first arrived, had blocked off really almost what appeared to be a half mile radius. We had to sort of hunt and peck our way to this particular location. We can also tell you that we spoke to a law enforcement source earlier this evening and we are being told that in fact Shahzad (INAUDIBLE) and it's claiming that he acted alone. Now clearly that's a claim that FBI agents, the NYPD are going to run to the ground, because they have serious doubts as to whether he could have pulled this off by himself.
Also we're being told the biggest goal of agents and police really short of everything else was to find Faisal Shahzad. They really wanted to know exactly where he was and clearly they came very close, because he was on that plane. Now Don, here's how the FBI agents --
LEMON: OK, Deb.
FEYERICK: ... and they are probably going to set some of the rules of the game, telling us that we can't ask --
LEMON: Deb, let's listen in, stand by Deb, stand by.
UNIDENTIFIED FBI AGENT: No questions to be asked if we're OK and NYPD and New York state police also accompanying an FBI joint terrorism task force for New York.
FEYERICK: Can you say the name one more time? UNIDENTIFIED FBI AGENT: I'll clear it up after) It's Kim Mertz, Kimberly Mertz, the SAC of the FBI in Connecticut. She's going to be doing this live.
FEYERICK: Thank you.
LEMON: OK so Kimberly Mertz, who's the SAC in Connecticut, that means special agent in charge, will hold a press conference and you heard the FBI agent there saying it's going to be very brief and he said who she's going to be flanked (ph) with, no questions. So here's Kimberly Mertz, special agent in charge of the Connecticut FBI. Let's listen in to this press conference now going on in Bridgeport, Connecticut.
KIM MERTZ, FBI SPECIAL AGENT IN CHARGE: Good morning everyone. We are here carrying out a court-authorized search warrant. The first mission of our search was to ensure the public safety as well as the safety of our law enforcement team. That is complete and the public is saved, is safe.
UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Can you speak up please? Thank you.
MERTZ: As I said, our first mission was to ensure the safety of the public and our law enforcement team. That is complete. The public is safe. The New Haven and New York joint terrorism task forces have worked tireless over the last several days on this critical investigation. The search is related to the Times Square investigation. I can appreciate your desire for additional information. However we cannot release anything at this time. The attorney general of the United States issued a press statement earlier today and the Department of Justice will be issuing statements later today. Thank you very much. I cannot take any questions.
LEMON: There you go, Kimberly Mertz, special agent in charge at the FBI in Connecticut, basically saying that they wanted to make sure that all of their officers, all of law enforcement, their team was safe and they said and to make sure that the public is safe. The public is safe and that's why they executed the search warrant there in Bridgeport, Connecticut. They said the search there is related to the Times Square investigation. They said basically what they have to say is what the attorney general of the United States had to say earlier in his press conference this evening and they say that the Department of Justice will be issuing any more information to come out of this.
Do we have our Deb Feyerick there for us?
FEYERICK: Don, I'm here. And (INAUDIBLE) clearly they're executing this court-authorized search warrant. That means they have full access to the home. They (INAUDIBLE) the list on that search warrant, what it is they were looking for, what it is they expected to find inside that home and clearly given what they know about what the materials were that were used. It could be anything related to that. It could be anything related to conversations that this person may have had with people overseas. This could be an investigation turning there early or later in the day yesterday I should say. And also interesting, as I mentioned before, that perimeter that we saw when we first got here was the Bridgeport police and it may have been because they were concerned that there might have been explosives inside that house. She referenced public safety and that the home is now secure. So that would suggest that there's nothing volatile inside, nothing that has to be removed for example by a bomb squad Don.
LEMON: Deb again, I think you did a great job earlier describing to us the activity that you saw. You said you saw a number of investigators on the scene about to execute that search warrant. When you got there, describe the scene and I would imagine some of this, they were checking to make sure that their officers were safe. But they were also waiting for the media as well to get their act together. Describe for us the scene there in Bridgeport, Connecticut tonight.
FEYERICK: Well, when we first got here, we were one of the first people here. As a matter of fact, we had gotten some information earlier in the day that -- we had got some information that the attorney general was speaking, holding a press conference at about 1:00 this morning and so we virtually stayed up overnight. We heard what the attorney general had to say, got the name of the suspect. We had gotten a location of a home that we believed belong to him and we were told that the family has moved out about a year ago. So this appears to be some sort of a secondary residence. I was told by law enforcement (INAUDIBLE) he may have a roommate who was living with him at the time, perhaps at this residence. (INAUDIBLE) to this location.
We were among the first people here and there were probably about a dozen, two dozen police cars that were stationed at various roads protecting, guarding this particular home. You can just see the sort of manpower that was involved in making sure that the area was secure, that nobody was going anywhere near the location where this home is. Then once the FBI got here, the police seemed to sort of pull back and a huge convoy of FBI agents came in, about four or five in each vehicle and I would say there were probably about a dozen vehicles altogether, including what was likely the sort of mobile forensic lab, sort of self-contained white unit. They were very secure, very sturdy and clearly have all the instruments that they need to search the interior of the home and we believe that's what they're doing now. Don.
LEMON: All right, Deb Feyerick on the scene there at that press conference in Bridgeport, Connecticut where they are executing it now. The FBI agents, along with other members of law enforcement and you heard the special agent in charge there in Connecticut talking about what they were doing at the home where Faisal Shahzad is believed to have lived. And the special agent in charge really saying they can't answer many questions. Everything they say will have to go through the Department of Justice from this point on and that's why I want to bring in now our Jeanne Meserve, our homeland security correspondent. Jeanne, a huge investigation. You've listened to this press conference. You heard what the SAC had to say about their part of the investigation. What do you make of this press conference this evening and what's happening in Connecticut?
JEANNE MESERVE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well clearly they just want to give the bare, bare minimum of information. As Deb mentioned, they're going in with a long laundry list most likely of what they want to look at, anything related to computers, anything related to phone communications, anything related to bomb making clearly, any literature you might have around the house. A broad range of things is what they're going on there and trying to cull out. They're going to tell us just as little as they possibly can to protect this investigation going forward.
I was talking to a law enforcement official a short time ago who said to me that it was media reports about the fact that officials were looking for somebody in Connecticut that got this guy's antennas waving and got him on that aircraft that was headed to Dubai. Fortunately he was stopped before that took off, but as Deborah had reported earlier, there were reports that he was actually on the aircraft when he was detained. Initially I had some conflicting information but I was told recently, more recently by a law enforcement official that it was so close that the jetway (ph) had pulled away from that jet. That's how close it was.
LEMON: Our homeland security correspondent Jeanne, great job and you've been on the air as long as I've been on the air and even when I'm not, I see you. So we appreciate your diligence and I'm sure you're surviving on adrenaline right now, but this is a very important story and you're doing a great job. Jeanne Meserve, thank you very much, CNN's homeland security correspondent.
I want to go back to London now and Sajjan Gohel, who is with the Asia Pacific Foundation. You heard the press conference here. The concern, the concern is that this may not be the only place that they carried out a search warrant and that there may be a number of these from this very case that will be executed in the near future.
GOHEL: Well the concern is how elaborate was this plot? Was this individual acting independently? Was he part of a more established terrorist infrastructure? Certainly the connections to Pakistan are intriguing and again, it shows that perhaps the U.S. is mirroring the similar problems that we face in the UK where three quarters of terrorist plots have a link back to Pakistan.
The thing that I find interesting though with the U.S. example is that often everyone cites the example of integration that because America's very diverse ethnicities are integrated, there's less problem of extremism. But that's not actually the problem when it comes to terrorism. It's the integrated ones that end up getting recruited. In the UK for example, those that are intelligent, educated, that come from middle class backgrounds. They also seem to be the ones more susceptible to the ideology and to radicalization.
LEMON: And Sajjan Gohel, I want to let Tom point this way. What do you make of that Tom?
TOM FUENTES, TERRORISM ANALYST (BY TELEPHONE): You were referring earlier to the 2007 London plot. Those were medical doctors who were working in hospitals in London. But we got like unemployed, disaffected young men that someone are losers of society. They were already medical doctors. So we did see that. I think the problem from my perspective is that the extreme jihad message that's going out that's telling people that it's your religious duty to commit terrorism. Drew Griffin interviewed those guys in New York a couple months ago that said it's their duty, they're commanded by Allah to commit terrorist acts and terrorize the population. And yeah, most normal people who are assimilated to American society are just not going to take that seriously. But when you send it out in the mass media which is the Internet or social media, it only has to stick with just a couple of people.
LEMON: And Tom --
FUENTES: If that's going out to tens of million of people, they only have to hit four or five or 10 to have a serious plot.
LEMON: Tom, that is a very good point. We want to thank you. We want to thank Drew Griffin and we want to thank Sajjan Gohel as well, as well as the rest of our team. I'm Don Lemon in New York. We turn now to Jim Acosta and Kiran Chetry for AMERICAN MORNING.