The US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] on Thursday indicted [indictment, PDF] Pakistani-born US citizen Faisal Shahzad [BBC profile] on 10 counts of terrorism and weapons charges related to his alleged role in last month's attempted car bombing in New York's Times Square. Five charges were added to the original complaint [JURIST report], which was filed last month. Included in the indictment are allegations that Shahzad attempted to use weapons of mass destruction, was part of a conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction and that he was part of a conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries. According to the indictment, Shahzad received weapons training in the Waziristan region of Pakistan from members associated with Tehrik-e-Taliban [Global Security backgrounder], a branch of the Pakistani Taliban. Shahzad also allegedly received a total of USD $12,000 from an unnamed co-conspirator to fund the bombing. US Attorney General Eric Holder [official website] indicated that Shahzad's indictment was important [press release], but that law enforcement must continue fighting threats of terrorism, stating:
The facts alleged in this indictment show that the Pakistani Taliban facilitated Faisal Shahzad's attempted attack on American soil. Our nation averted serious loss of life in this attempted bombing, but it is a reminder that we face an evolving threat that we must continue to fight with every tool available to the government.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. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.
Shahzad's arrest has contributed to the controversy over the appropriate venue to try terrorism suspects. In April, Holder said that the government has not ruled out [JURIST report] prosecuting certain high-profile terror suspects in federal court in New York. 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 court. 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.