NYC bomb plot suspect apparently 'lone wolf,' but ties to extremist groups still unknown
NEW YORK – NEW YORK (AP) — The Pakistani-American who police say admitted to igniting a failed car bomb in busy Times Square has made no court appearance since his arrest early this week and, though he is cooperating, authorities remain unsure he was acting alone.
New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly declined Friday to discuss what Faisal Shahzad is telling investigators, including what his motives were. He was arrested Monday aboard a Dubai-bound plane two days after the nighttime bomb scare cleared several blocks of the bustling district.
"This individual is cooperating. In these types of situations, you let the information flow, so to speak," Kelly said.
Police have surveillance images of Shahzad around Times Square and video that shows his car traveling to the spot where they say he left a smoking sport utility vehicle May 1 rigged with a gasoline-and-propane bomb.
Law enforcement officials say they are trying to find links between the Bridgeport, Conn., man and possible financing sources, including the Pakistani Taliban, which has both claimed responsibility for and denied roles in the botched bombing.
A money courier was being sought who may have funneled cash to the 30-year-old budget analyst, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation.
Gen. David Petraeus, head of U.S. Central Command, said Friday the Times Square suspect had apparently operated as a "lone wolf" who did not work with other terrorists. Petraeus said in a statement to the AP that the alleged perpetrator was inspired by militants in Pakistan but didn't necessarily have direct contact with them.
Investigators believe Shahzad had some bomb-making training in Pakistan as he claimed to investigators, and his training may have been sponsored in part by the Pakistani Taliban, a senior military official told the AP. But it was not clear where the training took place nor the quality of it, the official told the AP on the condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.
Shahzad has told investigators that he trained in the lawless tribal areas of Waziristan, where both al-Qaida and the Pakistani Taliban operate, and that he came up with the attack plan himself.
Investigators have not been able to establish whether Shahzad was recruited for the Times Square operation by the Pakistani Taliban or another militant group — or whether Shahzad came up with the attack plan himself, the official said.
American officials have been quoted as saying they believe the Pakistani Taliban, which has no history of attacks on U.S. soil, had a role in the Times Square plot, either in funding or motivating and training.
Half a world away Friday, police cleared the streets around Times Square and called in the bomb squad to dismantle what turned out to be a cooler full of water bottles. Earlier in the day, police were called in to check a suspicious package that turned out to be someone's lunch.
Since the bomb scare in the heart of the city, false-alarm calls are up dramatically, nerves are jangled, and media and law enforcement are rushing to the scenes to make sure the reports aren't something bigger.
More than 600 calls came in since the attempted car bombing a week ago — about 30 percent higher than normal, police said.
Times Square vendor Walter "Candyman" Wells said the constant scares aroused more suspicion.
"I think they're testing us, whoever is doing this," Wells said, sitting on a stool near his table of T-shirts. "They're playing chess with us right now, but they ain't gonna win. 'Cause we're the Bobby Fischers."
Associated Press writers Kimberly Dozier in Washington and Tom Hays in New York contributed to this report.