TERROR SUSPECT CAPTURED: Faisal Shahzad Arrested At JFK Airport While Attempting To Flee To Dubai; Vehicle Involved In Failed Times Square Attack Reportedly Bought In All-Cash Deal On Craigslist

Attorney General Eric Holder briefs reporters on the Times Square bomb plot.

A naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan was arrested at JFK Airport in New York late last night after he was removed from a flight bound for Dubai, authorities said.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced the arrest of Faisal Shahzad in an extraordinary news conference in the middle of the night. President Obama was informed about the arrest at 12:05 a.m., the White House said.

The arrest was made by the FBI and officers of the New York Police Department, authorities said.

Shahzad is suspected of packing a Nissan Pathfinder purchased through craigslist from a seller in Connecticut with propane tanks, fertilizer, firecrackers and gasoline to make an alarm-clock triggered bomb that would detonate in Times Square when it was filled with people.

The New York Daily News reported that the craigslist transaction was an all-cash deal.

A disposable cell phone also was part of the planned terror attack. Investigators were able to link the cell phone to Shahzad, according to reports.

Here is Holder’s early statement on Shahzad’s arrest (italics added):

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 this plot was first uncovered on Saturday night, the FBI, prosecutors and intelligence lawyers in the National Security Division of the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorneys Offices in Manhattan and Connecticut, along with the NYPD 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 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 we use every resource available to the United States 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.

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.

Here is a special statement issued by U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara of the Southern District of New York, FBI Special Agent-in-Charge George Venizelos, and New York City Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly (italics added):

At approximately 11:45 p.m., Faisal Shahzad was taken into custody. Agents of the Federal Bureau of Investigation and detectives of the New York City Police Department arrested Shahzad for allegedly driving a car bomb into Times Square on the evening of May 1, 2010.

Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, was taken into custody at John F. Kennedy International Airport after he was identified by the Department of Homeland Security’s U.S. Customs and Border Protection while attempting to take a flight to Dubai.

The defendant will appear in Manhattan federal court (500 Pearl Street, 5th Floor, New York, N.Y.) tomorrow [meaning today] at a currently undetermined time to be presented on formal charges. No further details are available at this time.

We applaud the collective work of the New York Joint Terrorism Task Force and the prosecutors and investigators in the Southern District of New York, who have worked around-the-clock for the last two days in this investigation. We would also like to recognize the diligent work of the Customs and Border Protection agents and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Connecticut.

EDITORIAL ASIDE: The PP Blog writes about Ponzi schemes, including “autosurf” Ponzi schemes and their close cousins: HYIP frauds.

These schemes are pushed by serial promoters and routinely defended as legitimate businesses, despite the fact that the purveyors do not have a clue about the motives of the operators or the identities of their autosurfing or HYIP neighbors.

Tremendous sums of money pass through the schemes, which mostly operate in the shadows and rely heavily on offshore-payment processors, debit cards and what the FBI describes as a “shadow” banking system.

Someone tried to detonate a bomb in New York City Saturday to kill people and destroy property. That the bomb did not “go off” is not the point.

The point is that the bomb could have gone off and that the source of funding for the bomb-making materials is unknown. The money has to come from somewhere. From the terrorist’s point of view, the less traceable the source, the better.

If you are participating in an autosurf or an HYIP, it is possible you are funding terrorism. This is the only reason you should need to say no — even if you know some of the people involved in the autosurf/HYIP, even if it “pays,” even if the payments you’ve received have improved your quality of life, even if the payments you’ve received are the only things that are keeping the wolf from your door. The purveyors want to play on your greed and/or desperation.

What will it take to get you to stop promoting these filthy, miserable, dangerous businesses that operate in the shadows? A successful detonation? (And what will you think of next to defend your downline commissions in these frauds if people are blown to bits?)

This Blog is well aware that many autosurf/HYIP participants want to feel “good” about what they are doing. We are equally well aware that some autosurf/HYIP participants believe that shutting down such schemes is an abuse of government power and some perceived affront to the Constitution.

Our view is that participants should not feel “good” at any time and that the purported abuse of government power in the autosurf/HYIP context is a red herring and, in some cases, code to recruit people who’d prefer the government not regulate any form of commerce.

This Blog has not arrived at its view in a vacuum. It has assessed all the contrarian points of view and views them as arguments that should be accorded no weight at all. In many cases, the arguments have been revealed to be the ravings of people so out of touch with the realities of the various cases — and often so out of touch with reality itself — that they’d advance any argument if they deemed it as helpful to their “cause.”

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