World

Times Square bomber gets life sentence

Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American who tried to bomb Times Square, smirked as he received a mandatory sentence of life in prison in New York.
A federal court judge sentenced Faisal Shahzad to life in prison Tuesday in New York. ((Orkut.com))

Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American who tried to bomb Times Square, smirked as he received a mandatory sentence of life in prison Tuesday in New York. 

U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum sparred repeatedly with Shahzad over his reasoning for giving up his comfortable life in America to train in Pakistan and carry out a potentially deadly May 1 attack in the heart of Times Square.

Shahzad had packed a bomb into the back of an SUV but it failed to detonate, injuring no one in a Times Square packed with tourists.

"You appear to be someone who was capable of education, and I do hope you will spend some of the time in prison thinking carefully about whether the Qur'an wants you to kill lots of people," Cedarbaum told Shahzad after she announced his mandatory life sentence, which under federal sentencing rules will keep him behind bars until he dies.

Shahzad, 31, responded that the "Qur'an gives us the right to defend. And that's all I'm doing." Earlier, Shahzad offered a lecture of his own for Americans, saying he felt no remorse. "We are only Muslims … but if you call us terrorists, we are proud terrorists and we will keep on terrorizing you," he said. At another point, he said: "The defeat of the U.S. is imminent."

Cedarbaum cut him off at one point to ask if he had sworn allegiance to the United States when he became a citizen last year.

"I did swear but I did not mean it," said Shahzad, a former budget analyst from Connecticut who was born in Pakistan. 

"So you took a false oath," the judge told him.

In June, a defiant Shahzad called himself a Muslim soldier and pleaded guilty to 10 terrorism and weapons counts.

On Tuesday, he picked up where he left off. "If I'm given 1,000 lives I will sacrifice them all for the life of Allah," he said, adding that attacks on Americans will continue until the United States leaves Muslim lands.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the bombing plot, though Pakistan's military disputed this. At the time of the incident, Shahzad had recently returned to the U.S. from a five-month trip to Pakistan where he received explosives training to prepare for his bombing attempt.

Investigators found in the SUV three propane tanks, a pair of full 19-litre gasoline containers and two clocks with batteries, electrical wire and other components. The clocks were said to have been connected to a can filled with fireworks, which were apparently meant to ignite the gasoline and, ultimately, the propane.

Authorities traced the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder to a previous owner and said Shahzad bought it about three weeks earlier, using cash.

Shahzad was arrested two days later at JFK International Airport in New York aboard a plane to Dubai, United Arab Emirates.

Federal officials had put Shahzad on a no-fly list just hours before he was arrested, but Emirates Airlines didn't initially notice that he had been placed on the list, allowing him to board the plane despite the ban.

Asked by the judge if he had any final words, Shahzad said, "I'm happy with the deal that God has given me."

With files from The Associated Press

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