NYC car bomb suspect to face terrorism charges: Holder

[JURIST] US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] said Tuesday that Pakistani-born US citizen Faisal Shahzad will face terrorism charges [press release] for his alleged role in an attempted car bombing in New York City's Times Square. Shahzad was taken into custody [press release] Monday evening after an SUV containing explosives was found parked in Times Square Saturday afternoon. Holder said that the investigation is ongoing, but that he "anticipate[s] charging him with an act of terrorism transcending national borders, attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, use of a destructive device during the commission of another crime, and explosives charges." Shahzad has reportedly admitted to the attempted bombing and claims to have acted alone, but Pakistani authorities have made several arrests [Reuters report] in connection with the case. Shahzad is scheduled to appear in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] Tuesday afternoon.

Shahzad's arrest comes at a time of controversy over the appropriate venue to try terrorism suspects. Last month, Holder said that the government has not ruled out [JURIST report] prosecuting certain high-profile terror suspects in federal court in New York City. During a hearing [materials] on oversight of the US Department of Justice (DOJ), Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee [official website] that the government is still considering civilian trials for several high-level terror suspects, including alleged 9/11 conspirator Khalid Sheikh Mohammad [BBC profile; JURIST news archive]. In March, Defense Secretary Robert Gates [official profile] appointed [JURIST report] retired Navy Vice Adm. Bruce MacDonald [official profile] as the convening authority for military commissions [JURIST news archive], leading to speculation that the Obama administration was planning to try the 9/11 conspirators in a military trial. Also in March, Holder defended his decision [JURIST report] to try the suspected terrorists in civilian court. Holder announced [JURIST report] that the alleged conspirators would face civilian criminal trials rather than military tribunals late last year.

4:30 PM ET - Shahzad has been charged [complaint, PDF] with five counts, including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to kill and maim people in the US, using and carrying a destructive device, transporting an explosive device, and attempting to damage building, vehicles, and other property. The complaint also shows that Shahzad admitted to the attempted bombing and said he received bomb-making training in Pakistan.

 

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