Days before the failed car bomb in Times Square, a Pakistani-American scouted the bustling district in the same vehicle and then, on a second trip, left a getaway car blocks from his chosen target, a law enforcement official has told The Associated Press. Faisal Shahzad, now in custody on terrorism and weapons charges, drove a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder to Times Square from Connecticut on April 28, apparently to figure out where would be the best place to leave it later, the official said Wednesday. He then returned April 30 to drop off a black Isuzu, according to the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the investigation. The official said Shahzad went back Saturday and left the SUV loaded with firecrackers, gasoline and propane, enough to likely create a fireball and kill nearby tourists and Broadway theatergoers had it gone off successfully. Shahzad, 30, of Connecticut, admitted to rigging the Pathfinder with a crude bomb based on explosives training he received in Pakistan, authorities say. He was pulled off a Dubaibound plane Monday and has been cooperating with investigators. No court appearance has yet been scheduled for Shahzad, a spokeswoman for the U.S. attorney's office in Manhattan said. Kifyat Ali, a cousin of Shahzad's father, has called the arrest "a conspiracy." In a city still jittery from the failed car bomb driven into one of its most famous neighborhoods, a truck abandoned near a toll booth to the Robert F. Kennedy Bridge caused alarm late Wednesday when a bridge authority officer believed he smelled gasoline coming from it and saw a man flee the truck. But the truck turned out to be empty and not a threat, the New York Police Department said. The bridge, formerly called the Triborough Bridge, is a major connector in the city, linking Manhattan, Queens and the Bronx. Police were looking to speak to the person who abandoned it. Shahzad is believed to have been working alone when he began preparing the Times Square attack, almost immediately after returning in February from his native land, authorities said. They said they have yet to find a wider link to extremist groups or to pin down a motive. "It appears from some of his other activities that March is when he decided to put this plan in motion," New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Wednesday. "He came back from Pakistan Feb. 3, 2010. It may well have been an indicator of putting something catastrophic in motion." In leaving Times Square on Saturday, he discovered he left a chain of 20 keys including those to the getaway car and his home in Connecticut in the SUV, and had to take public transit, the official told the AP. Investigators had already started searching for suspects, when he returned to the scene on Sunday with a second set of keys to pick up the Isuzu, parked about eight blocks from the car bomb site, the official said.
Bomb suspect did dry run days before
Published: Thursday, May 6th, 2010
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