A Connecticut resident has been taken into custody in the failed Times Square car bomb attack, law enforcement officials said today.
The suspect, identified as Faisal Shahzad, was picked up at John F. Kennedy International Airport just before midnight and is being held in New York. He is a Pakistani who recently returned from a trip to that country.
Shahzad has been answering questions asked by investigators who want to know whether he acted alone when he tried to blow up a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder in Times Square on Saturday, or if he was part of a larger plot.
An official would not say what information Shahzad has provided, and it's unclear whether that cooperation will continue. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the investigation.
Federal agents and police from Bridgeport and New York City descended on a home in the 200 block of Sheridan Street in Bridgeport late Monday. Bags of evidence, along with documents and computers, were removed from the home, believed to have belonged to Shahzad.
Shahzad, a U.S. citizen, was arrested by Customs agents on board a plane bound for Dubai. He is being held in Manhattan and is expected to appear in Federal Court today.
A law enforcement official told the Associated Press Tuesday Shahzad was not known to the U.S. intelligence community before the failed bombing attempt.
"He's claimed to have acted alone, but these are things that have to be investigated," the official said.
Shahzad became a naturalized U.S. citizen in April 2009 in Hartford, records show. He has lived in Connecticut since at least 2000, in several towns in Fairfield County including Norwalk, Milford and Shelton.
Law enforcement officials from the FBI, Bridgeport, and New York City Police departments have been on Sheridan Street in Bridgeport since late Monday night, where he is believed to have lived most recently.
"Our first mission was to ensure the safety of the public and our law enforcement team. That is complete, the public is safe," said Special Agent Kim Mertz in a brief press conference Tuesday morning.
Faisal Shahzad also lived at a home on Long Hill Drive in Shelton. Neighbors there said they have not seen Shahzad, his wife or children entering the home for nearly a year. The home appeared unkempt, but evidence of an investigative search, including a lock and fingerprint dust, was visible on the door.
Donna Achille used to live across the street from the family in Shelton, but she never knew them very well. She also had no reason to be suspicious; they seemed like any family from a foreign country, trying to make a new life in America, she said.
"They were just really below the radar," she said.
The wife wore traditional clothes from the Middle East that covered much of her body, but not her face, she said. She would walk a baby girl up and down the street, she said.
The man wore American clothes, business casual, and came and went like any working dad, she said. They mostly kept to themselves.
"They didn't have a lot of people coming and going," Achille said.
If Achille was up in the middle of the night -- as late as 3 a.m. -- she said, she would notice light streaming out of the house's octagon-shaped window. She figured someone in the house was on the Internet, keeping in touch with relatives across the globe.
Almost as soon as the family moved in, the house was put on the market, she said. It was listed with different real estate agencies.
The family didn't do a lot of upkeep on the small piece of property, she said, but there was nothing extraordinary about the lack of maintenance.
"I thought: 'OK, they're not into it,' " Achille said.
"It's just odd," she said. "I cannot believe how well they blended in."
The FBI remained on Sheridan Street Tuesday morning gathering evidence and continuing their investigation.
Court records show that Shahzad defaulted on a $200,000 mortgage on his Connecticut home and that the property is in foreclosure.
Records obtained by The Associated Press show that Chase Home Finance LLC sued Shahzad in September to foreclose on the home.
The foreclosure records show Shahzad took out the mortgage on the property in 2004, and he co-owned the home with a woman named Huma Mian. The foreclosure case is pending in Milford Superior Court.
A message was left Tuesday with an attorney for Chase's law firm. The records show Shahzad and Mian didn't have lawyers for the case.
Pathfinder Belonged To Bridgeport Teen
The Nissan Pathfinder left to explode in Times Square Saturday night belonged to a Bridgeport teenager until less than a week ago when she sold it to a man who contacted her through craigslist.
Sources familiar with the investigation said that the gray SUV was owned by Peggy Colas, a 19-year-old from Bridgeport. Investigators first spoke to her on Sunday when she told them she sold the car for $1,300 in cash to a man she described as being of either Hispanic or Middle Eastern descent.
A source said Colas told authorities that she met the man at a mall on April 28, only three days before the attempted bombing, and he gave her the cash and took the car.
Authorities tracked the man by an e-mail that he had sent her about purchasing the car. Authorities have said that the man who bought the car was from Connecticut. Colas could not be reached for comment Monday night.
But on her Facebook page she posted a message after being interviewed by investigators saying "OMG! I HAD A CRAZY DAY ... IT'S OFFICIAL. I HAVE BAD LUCK. SMH I HOPE THEY FIND THAT BASTARD." Besides craigslist, Colas posted an ad on nothingbutcars.net. In that ad, she described the Pathfinder as gray with 141,000 miles on it.
She further described it this way: "Recently fixed the alternator ($310.00)... It also has 2 new front tires.. the oil and spark plug has been changed recently, and it also has a new gas pump, and distributer. It does have some rust as you can see in the picture, but other than that it runs great!! $1,300 OBO."
It is not clear how a license plate belonging to another Bridgeport man's Ford F-150 pickup truck ended up on the Pathfinder.
Sources said the license plate found on the Pathfinder belonged to a car owned by Elmo Jones, also of Bridgeport. Jones told authorities that he had taken his truck to Kramer's Auto Body Shop in Stratford for repairs.
Authorities found Colas by tracing the history of the Pathfinder, which was sold in 2004 by Bridgeport car dealer Tony Manis. It is not clear when Colas purchased the Pathfinder.
"The joint terrorism task force recognized the sticker on the back of the vehicle that was found in Times Square to have my dealership logo on it." Manis said Monday. "So they tracked me down and found me at my home at 6:45 in the morning, asked if they could escort me down to the dealership so they could look over records. When they [told] me what they were looking for, I was more than happy to assist right away."
Sources told The Courant that investigators asked the Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles for license images of the person or persons who owned the Ford truck.
The DMV declined to disclose to the media the registration history for the license plate found on the Pathfinder, as well as the history of the junkyard.
DMV officials said that the FBI ordered them not to release any information because it is a "national security" issue.
On Sunday, FBI agents and state police descended on Kramer's but declined to say what they were looking for. Representatives of Kramer's, including its owner, M. Wayne LeBlanc, could not be reached for comment.
Paul Browne, the NYPD's deputy commissioner for public information, would not give details on the registered owner but said that officials were still looking for the driver.
Investigators were also looking Monday to speak with a man in his 40s videotaped shedding his shirt near the SUV where the bomb was found. The surveillance video, made public late Sunday, shows the man slipping down Shubert Alley and taking off his shirt, revealing another one underneath.
In the same clip, he looks back in the direction of the smoking vehicle and furtively puts the first shirt in a bag.
Attorney General Eric Holder said Monday that investigators had some good leads in addition to the videotape of the man. Holder said that it was too early to say whether the incident was of foreign or domestic origin or to designate it as terrorism.
Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on NBC's "Today" show on Monday that no suspects or theories had been ruled out. "Right now, every lead has to be pursued," she said.
And investigators had not ruled out a range of possible motives. The Pakistani Taliban appeared to claim responsibility for the car bomb in three videos that surfaced after the weekend scare, monitoring groups said. New York officials said that police have no evidence to support the claims.
President Barack Obama said "justice will be done" in the incident.
The president said "hundreds of lives" may have been saved through quick action by ordinary citizens and local, state and federal authorities on Saturday night.
"We know that the aim of those who try to carry out" attacks like the one last weekend is to force Americans to live in fear, Obama said.
"As Americans and as a nation, we will not be terrorized. We will not cower in fear. We will not be intimidated," he vowed.