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Page last updated at 02:18 GMT, Wednesday, 5 May 2010 03:18 UK

Court papers reveal details of New York bomb suspect

By Katie Connolly
BBC News, New York

Photo from social networking site Orkut.com released by AP, identified as Faisal Shahzad
Mr Shahzad left the keys to his home inside the car with the bomb

New details have emerged about Faisal Shahzad, the 30-year-old US citizen charged for attempting to detonate a car bomb in Times Square on Saturday.

Mr Shahzad is charged on five counts, including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to kill and maim citizens.

According to court documents, he admitted to receiving bomb-making training in Waziristan, Pakistan.

Mr Shahzad spent five months in Pakistan, returning on 3 February. He told immigration officials he had been visiting his parents.

He claimed he would be living at a motel in Connecticut while he searched for a job and a more permanent place to live. His wife, he told authorities, remained in Pakistan.

Police have also discovered that the pre-paid mobile phone which authorities had used to identify and locate Mr Shahzad had received a series of calls from Pakistan following his purchase of the Nissan Pathfinder at the centre of the failed attack. But the phone had not been used since 18 April.

After working for eight hours to secure the vehicle, investigators found the keys to Mr Shahzad's Connecticut home inside, along with keys to another car - likely the Isuzu Rodeo that Mr Shahzad was seen driving when he purchased the Pathfinder.

Frustration at courthouse

Reporters waited all day at the US District Court in Manhattan's Financial District for a glimpse of Mr Shahzad.

Journalists outside New York courthouse awaiting arraignment of Faisal Shahzad - 4 May 2010
Journalists lined the street outside the court in Manhattan

They crowded for hours in the stark, modern arraignment room on the fifth floor, watching a series of minor immigration and drug cases being heard by Magistrate Judge Kevin Fox, a thin, serious man with a quick yet deliberate manner.

But by 1700 it was clear to the frustrated group that Mr Shahzad would not be appearing that day.

Outside the courthouse, life in Manhattan seemed unaffected.

On this unseasonably warm spring day New Yorkers trying to lunch outdoors appeared more perturbed by the horde of television cameras and satellite trucks overrunning the pavements than they did by the spectre of terror attacks.

'He's chasing us!'

Tourists on the other hand were lapping up the media spectacle.

Bertie Sperna Weiland and her family were visiting New York from Holland. Their six-day holiday has been marked by their brush with terror.

Mr and Mrs Weiland from the Netherlands
The Weilands had a close brush with the Times Square bomb

The Weilands had tickets to The Lion King on Broadway on Saturday evening, but the performance was delayed because of the car bomb.

They tried to make their way to several nearby restaurants for a nice family dinner, but their attempts were hampered by police barricades and evacuations. They ended up eating at McDonalds.

On Tuesday, they were touring Chinatown and the Financial District when they happened across the media circus outside the courthouse.

"He is chasing us," Mrs Weiland joked, before adding in a serious tone, "Every time we go out we come back to this guy. He could have killed us."

The Weilands decided to wait outside the courthouse to see if they could spot the man who had plagued their vacation. But like the reporters across the street, they too were disappointed.

'Heart and centre'

Times Square has long been a magnet for tourists, and although the humming of its streets may be a little subdued in the wake of the attempted car bombing, the famed district is buzzing nonetheless.

Paul and Frieda Lynen
The Lynens' hotel stay was disrupted by the bomb scare

Paul and Frieda Lynen arrived from Belgium on the day before the attack, and despite being evacuated from their Times Square hotel until one o'clock on Sunday morning, their enthusiasm for the city is unabated.

Mrs Lynen even thought the near-catastrophe heightened the excitement of their stay.

She added that she was impressed with the efficiency with which authorities apprehended the suspect Faisal Shahzad. Her husband noted his surprise that Mr Shahzad was an American citizen.

"It's a terrible thing for Americans to realise that the threat is not just from outside," he said. "It is from their heart and centre. That is terrible."

Some tourists told the BBC they felt that the media had over-reacted to the attempted bombing, inciting unnecessary fear. But most considered the threat so serious that the response was appropriate.

"If you under-react, the consequences are far more severe than if you over-react," Jeff Duncan, an IT executive from Atlanta told the BBC.

"Given what New York has been through, over-reactions are OK. Nobody can fault New Yorkers for that."

Precious freedoms

Jeff Duncan
Jeff Duncan believes Americans won't give in to fear

Duncan expressed concern that authorities apparently apprehended Mr Shahzad at the last minute - and that the bomb wasn't detected until it started smoking - but he doesn't fault their tactics or response.

Reflecting a debate that has been raging in the US since 9/11, Duncan considers the police strategy as part of a broader question about civil liberties.

"The alternative is to live in a more closed society," he said. "I don't think Americans are willing to give up their freedoms - which are so precious - to fear. That way you just lose before you begin."

Chris Hill, who is visiting from Albany in upstate New York, wasn't so sure.

"It's hard to want to trade freedoms," he said. "But if it helps stop a potential car bomb, then maybe it's worth it."

Street vendors told the BBC that foot traffic had been somewhat lighter since the attack, but those who've ventured out are unconcerned.

Eric Dumpen, a ticket agent with a bus touring company in Times Square said he'd had several tourists ask him to point out the spot where the bomb was defused, but Tolda Gunes, a nearby airbrush tattooist, said most of his customers "don't even know what happened - they're not reading the newspapers".

Ginia Hayward, a Canadian tourist, summed up the overall feeling of most of Times Square's visitors on Tuesday night.

"It's just really cool to be here," she said, as she watched her friends pose for photographs in front of flashing neon signs. "I'm not letting it worry me."



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