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Times Square Bomb Arrest

Aired May 4, 2010 - 05:00   ET


KIRAN CHETRY, ANCHOR: Good morning. Welcome to a special edition of "American Morning." We're up with you an hour early following Breaking News. The latest developments on the Times Square terror scare. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JIM ACOSTA, ANCHOR: And I'm Jim Acosta in for John Roberts. We want to welcome our viewers from around the world and we have breaking news on the Times Square bombing attempt, Kiran.

CHETRY: It was just hours ago that authorities arrested a suspect in the case. The arrest coming just a little more than two days after an SUV that was packed with fuel, fertilizer and fireworks was abandoned on a crowded street in the heart of the theater district.

Attorney General Eric Holder held a news conference earlier this morning about the evidence that led to the arrest. Let's listen to what he said.


ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: 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 into custody at JFK Airport in New York as he attempted to board a flight to Dubai.

Since the plot was first uncovered on Saturday night, the FBI, the prosecutors, intelligence lawyers in the National Security Division of the Justice Department, which Mr. Chris heads and United States Attorney's offices in Manhattan and Connecticut along with the New York Police Department have worked night and day to find out who was responsible for what would have been a deadly attack had it been successful.


CHETRY: And it looks like this morning they believe that they have that suspect. We have a team of reporters, analysts and experts up and ready to go, and even covering the story throughout the night.

We begin with our special coverage with Jason Carroll. He's live in lower Manhattan where this suspect will be arraigned later today. Jason, good morning.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: And good morning to you, Kiran, and that's exactly what we're waiting for. We're waiting for the moment when Faisal Shahzad, 30 years old, will be formally charged down here at Federal Court.

I want though, Kiran, for the folks who were just waking up and tuning in. How this arrest - how this all came to be? So let's rewind just a bit to last night at 11:45, and that's when investigators actually found Faisal Shahzad. He had boarded a flight, an Emirates Airline Flight 202 bound for Dubai.

We're hearing, Kiran, that the flight had actually pulled away from the gate. It was on the runway. Investigators learned that their man was on board this flight. They turned the plane around, brought it back, that's where custom men border patrol agents were waiting for him and made their arrest.

Investigators believed that Shahzad is the very same man who purchased that Nissan Pathfinder that was used in the Times Square failed bombing plot. He bought it about three weeks ago for $1800 on Craig's List from another man. That man was actually able to help investigators track and find Shahzad.

Shahzad, 30 years old, from Connecticut. He is -- from Pakistan he descent. He was actually made a U.S. citizen last April. So this is where we're hearing in terms of some of his background. At this point, we are waiting for him to be formally charged here at Federal Court. That is the very latest what we have from this point - Kiran.

CHETRY: All right, although the latest in getting everyone caught up who's just joining this morning on how this investigation has proceeded so far and Jason, we'll be checking in with you throughout the morning. Thanks.

ACOSTA: And Kiran, there's been a lot of police activity this morning in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Officers have cordoned off an area and the bomb squad has been called in. The FBI just held a news conference, a brief one just a few moments ago. Deb Feyerick is in Bridgeport this morning.

Deb, I guess this is the last known address for this suspect? What's going on there?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Yes, that's what we're being told that it is the last known address for this particular person. We can tell you that there is a lot of activity. We're way down the block so you're not going to be able to see the home that they're searching.

But about 4:00 this morning, a caravan of the FBI agents and cars made their way down to that home. There are about four or five agents in every car. There were forensic teams. All of them executing a search warrant on this home. Now, the search warrant clearly will indicate what it is exactly that they think they're going to find.

That may be things that were related to the bomb that was made. This may also be computers or cellphones or anything that might help investigators in their search. They're inside right now pouring over that home. They've only gotten here just awhile ago so we do believe they're going to be here for quite some time. Now, a law enforcement source who's in the investigation told us that in fact, Shahzad is actually claiming that he acted alone. There's a lot of skepticism in that. Specifically because what he did by building this and even assembling and bringing into Manhattan may have taken more than one person.

And the way these terror groups, these individuals tend to work whether they're alone (wolves) or whether they are domestic terrorist. They tend to have very defined roles, but everybody knows what their part is and they try to divide things up so that even if one person is caught, they can go ahead. That is something that investigators are looking into.

Also, we are told the biggest goal of this search, this was not just investigation. This was an all out manhunt. The chief priority, the goal of everybody who is involve in this was to make sure they found Faisal Shahzad to make sure that he did not leave the country and as you heard Jason say, in fact, they came very, very close to missing him because he was on board that plane.

Authorities telling us that he was down for Pakistan via Dubai, which is a very huge transit point, but they were able to get him before he left the country. And so right now, we can tell you that the scene is down this block. Very busy here, a lot of reporters on the scene and also we do want to say that he is a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Pakistan, and he fits the description of the person who sold him that Nissan Pathfinder. That Pathfinder really that led everyone to discover where he was - John, sorry - Jim, Kiran.

ACOSTA: Thanks very much. Deb Feyerick with the latest there on the scene. A developing in Bridgeport, Connecticut and Deb will be sticking with you throughout the morning. If anything new develops, we'll be back in touch with you. Thanks very much, Deb - Kiran.

CHETRY: Yes, a lot of going on, a lot of changing this morning, and again, we are continuing to bring all of our correspondents back in as soon as they learn new information throughout the morning so stick with us.

Meanwhile, we're also learning a little bit more about the suspect in the attempted Times Square bombing and how authorities caught with him at JFK in the nick of time. Homeland Security correspondent, Jeanne Meserve has been up all night working her sources.

She's in Washington and we're not overstating this when we say nick of time and this plane was actually pulling away from the jet (way).

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN HOMELAND SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, that's what I'm told by a law enforcement official that he was on board and the jet way had been pulled back that they got him just in the nick of time. In addition, this law enforcement official says that media coverage about the fact that authorities were looking for an individual in Connecticut was one of the factors in his decision in trying to flee the country.

Faisal Shahzad, that's the name, 30 years old as you've heard born in Pakistan, naturalized as a U.S. citizen in April of 2009. Because he had recently become a U.S. citizen, immigration and customs enforcement had a photograph of this individual.

And so when they became aware of this transaction involving the Pathfinder in Craig's List, they were able to take this photograph, according to a law enforcement official, to the person who was selling the car. They showed that photograph and the individual said, yes, indeed that's the man to whom I sold this car. I'm told that was one of the things that really made this case against this individual.

Let me tell you a little bit more. This individual had done some recent travelling after he became a U.S. citizen. He flew to Dubai in June of 2009. He returned in February of 2010. Now, officials do tell me they are absolutely sure that Dubai was his final destination. That is a big transportation hub. It is perfectly possible he flew from Dubai to some other country that is part of the ongoing investigation.

Also, let me tell you that officials do tell me that in recent weeks, he has made some international calls. They also say that before the event of Saturday night, he was not on anybody's radar screen. There had been no derogatory information about this individual that alerted authorities to the fact that he might post some kind of a risk - Kiran.

CHETRY: That's what makes it really interesting here. I mean, yesterday, we had Police Commissioner of New York, Ray (Kelly) here and they were talking about, you know, scouring these 82 police cameras that are setup in the few block radius around Times Square where this incident happened.

And, you know, they wanted to question a guy who was seen taking his shirt off and putting it back on. It was really the fact that there was this VIN number found on the engine. That sort of trigger this entire thing, and that's a really fascinating element in this investigation.

MESERVE: Yes, you know, people who I'd talked to who largely former FBI and ATF officials who I talked to said, that car was - they do from the outside, that was going to be absolutely vital. Because to - if you had pictures from a surveillance camera, that doesn't give you an identity of the person who you've captured on the surveillance camera.

If you get forensic evidence off of the bomb, if you determine where some of the components were made, that doesn't lead you to an individual, but the car because of that number, which is in essence like the Social Security number of the vehicle, it tells you who has owned it and when, that was absolutely critical to tracing that.

Now this guy apparently had not registered this car in his own name, but nonetheless, because they were able to track down that last transaction and the seller of that car, that really led to him.

CHETRY: And then that's the interesting part. So after that, what are your source were telling you, but after they discovered the seller and he told them who he sold it to, how did they then track him down to JFK Airport?

MESERVE: Well, I'm not certain of all the particulars and I should mention here that, of course, it wasn't just the photograph. That once they discovered there had been a Craig's List transaction, they went and they exploited that for all the information they could get.

One would presume that would include some computer communications perhaps, some phone communications and that's what led them to know that that's the person whose photograph they needed to get to show.

We do know that he was put under surveillance for some period of time before he was picked up, but I do not have the specifics from my sources of exactly where they found him and when they started watching him.

CHETRY: All right, well, you're getting new information all the time. I know it's been a long hold for you, but thank you, Jeanne and we'll be checking in with you throughout the morning.

ACOSTA: And we want to bring in our CNN National Security contributor, Fran Townsend now. She's going to have some new details for us. We've got her on the phone.

CHETRY: Yes, she's on Orlando right now, and she's also been working her contacts friend. Just tell us what the latest as we've sort of laying out for our viewers this morning as we've go on a little bit early here to update the situation and things have been changing as we speak. What do you know? What's the latest right now in this investigation?

FRAN TOWNSEND, CNN NATIONAL SECURITY CONTRIBUTOR (via telephone): Well, Kiran, they're doing the usual sorts of kind of standard investigative things you do after you take an individual arrested and (inaudible) into custody.

They're going to check his DNA. The reason why they check - if you heard from Jeanne and others that are reporting, that they had forensics that they took from the car, whether that's - we don't know exactly what that is. We know that typically that's fingerprint hair, all those sorts of samples, they want to compare that.

Now they've kind - they've connected him to the vehicle. They want to prove he was the guy who was actually in there, driving that car, and that's one of the things they will look at. You know, the question - the real question becomes now, when he travel overseas before, what are those overseas connections that they will look at.

And you know, is he going to cooperate? We've heard earlier reports that he was making statements. Those statements will be critical because they will provide real time relieve either to international connections, other connections to individuals in the United States. The question, you know, what would he tell us?

What would he tell investigators that will allow them to further exploit the information they've got. Test this information against what they know and then identify potentially other conspirators. ACOSTA: And, Fran, what do you make of the fact that, I mean, this suspect was caught just in the nick of time. I mean, as Jeanne Meserve mentioned, that plane was pulling back from the jet way and getting ready to take off for Dubai. This was close.

TOWNSEND: Yes, Jim, although I have to believe based on their ability to connect this guy through the VIN number and through the investigation that he was under surveillance. I imagine that it was - I mean, that we don't know yet. We haven't been able to confirm this, but suspicion here is that this is a more controlled, but it appears to us from the outside looking in.

They were clearly on a trail. They were clearly - I had identified him, we're locating him and he may, in fact, been under surveillance. You know one of the key - that plane has been delayed. One of the key investigative sector, they're no doubt going through every individual and everything is on that plane, hand luggage, check luggage, all the individuals to see if there's anybody who has any connection to him at all, and may have been a part of this plot.

CHETRY: You know it also speaks to the power of the internet as a law enforcement tool. I mean, even if you go back 10 years, I mean, the whole Craig's List transaction. In fact that he bought this car in Craig's List and presumably left a lot of stamped information along the way, between those electronic communications.

TOWNSEND: You're absolutely right. You know, in everyone of these plots inevitably we find another way that our enemies, the bad guys have used to exploit and managed to exploit in order to get materials. Remember the 9/11 case, we realized the gaps if you will and how you acquire a drivers license.

I think what you're going to see is Senator Lieberman and Senator Collins who have been getting briefed on the progress of this investigation will to identify the gaps that we now see through this investigation and look to close them.

CHETRY: All right.

ACOSTA: Fran Townsend on the phone with us in Orlando this morning. Fran, thanks for sticking with us. We'll be getting back to you as often as we can throughout the morning and we're going to have more on this coverage of - this breaking news situation.

An incredible arrest, some amazing detective work, quick detective work that was done in the last 48 to 72 hours to nab this suspect on this plane as it was apparently trying to leave for Dubai last night.

CHETRY: It is amazing. All of these taking place, of course, as we know late Saturday night and we will continue to track all the information coming in. We're live in Bridgeport, Connecticut, the last known address of the suspect. We're also live in D.C. down at the Federal Courthouse, where he presumably will be arraigned. We're waiting arraignment later today.

And also live from Islamabad, Pakistan. This was a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan who is now the key suspect in this terror scare. Drew Griffins also looking into how the authorities track these foreign leads. We'll be right back, 15 minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: And good morning, if you're up early with us at 18 minutes past 5:00 here in New York, it's because we're following breaking news this morning, an arrest in the failed Times Square bomb plot. We're going to get you up-to-date on what we know so far.

Attorney General Eric Holder identifying the suspect early this morning, a man by the name of Faisal Shahzad. He is a U.S. citizen, a Pakistani descent. In fact, a recent U.S. citizen, becoming a citizen of April of last year.

Shahzad is believed to be the person who drove the car into Times Square. A search warrant is being executed right now in Connecticut to what is believed to be his last known address.

ACOSTA: And law enforcement officials tell us that he is the person who bought that Nissan Pathfinder for $1800 cash. The SUV was packed with explosives and found smoking on 45th Street and Broadway Saturday afternoon.

CHETRY: Yes, Shahzad also was nabbed at JFK Airport. This happened around midnight, tonight, trying to leave the country, headed out on a flight to Dubai. The source also tells us that Shahzad was already on board the flight waiting to take off, the plane had indeed actually pulled away and that it was stopped at the last second

ACOSTA: And authorities will no doubt be looking at any international connections he may have. For more on that, let's turn to Drew Griffin with our Special Investigations Unit.

And that is a big question at this hour because of this video that was released by the Taliban in Pakistan on the last 24 hours. Folks are connecting dots if there are dots there, what do you think?

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE UNIT CORRESPONDENT: It's also a big question because when you look at where this guy has been. He has spent most of the last year out of the country. He spent eight months out of the country and he came back in February, and then just two months later, he's involved in this attack on Times Square.

One of the things I want to point out, actually that we've been reporting overnight, a law enforcement source telling us they believe he is the man who drove the truck into Times Square. There's been a lot of speculation about whether somebody else might have driven it. No, the police believe he is the drive of the truck.

So they're going to be looking at whoever he talked to overseas. Who he was visiting overseas? Who sent him money overseas? Who he was listening to or may have visited overseas?

ACOSTA: (Inaudible) 30 year old, just a citizen in the last year, so obviously the scene that Deb Feyerick is at in Connecticut could yield some clues and we'll be going through all of that. One thing I wanted to ask you, Drew, is because you've done a lot of reporting on airport security, I mean, this suspect apparently was able to get passed security at JFK and he was on that plane.

GRIFFIN: Yes, we might step on some (inaudible) here, but I was just want to clean that up. Tom (Fuentes) who's a CNN contributor. He's also the former assistant director of the FBI said, look, from the moment they identified this guy, which all indication say was sometime early Sunday -

ACOSTA: Right.

GRIFFIN: They had been on him and this guy was going nowhere. He was under extreme surveillance. That's what Tom (Fuentes) has told me. So that they were able to track every single move at no time was this guy about to escape or get away.

What (Fuentes) believes is happening and what others quite frankly said, is they were trying to see what or what he do, who he would talk to, if anybody would him, see if they could another suspect to them through this guy before he left the country.

CHETRY: (Inaudible) a question with other passengers that are on that flight be potentially put at risk?

GRIFFIN: Well, I don't think so. I mean, come on, he's got to go through the metal detectors like everybody else. He probably had very limited baggage that he was taking off. I'd - you know, I don't believe that he was carrying anything dangerous and I would bet you, as we play this out, that there was one or two federal agents that are on board that plane.

ACOSTA: Yes, Fran Townsend threw a precaution flag as well that we shouldn't conclude that because he was able to get on that plane and was pulling back in the jet way that he was necessarily on the verge of being scathe free.

GRIFFIN: They're watching the guy. He - you guys have been on (inaudible) now a days, you try to sneak in that last cellphone call, I'm on the way, pick me up at, you know, 2:30.

ACOSTA: Right.

GRIFFIN: That's the call they were trying to get him to make because - they're going to try to trace that call to who. The other potential terrorist who was working with him so they want to have that information and they were trying to give him every opportunity to help them catch these other guys.

CHETRY: The other quick question about his foreign travels and as you said, we know that he flew from the United States to Dubai and then he flew back from Dubai to the United States and there was that eight- month period. There are some questions about where he was during that time. How will law enforcement go about tracking that down? His whereabouts during those eight months that he was out of country. GRIFFIN: That's where we will use the foreign countries like Pakistan who are helping us in this war on terror. We will go to them. We have FBI all over the country, but we will also be using their security people to do the same thing we would do. They know when somebody comes in to their country. They'll be able to track where he landed in Dubai.

Did he switch to another plane? Did he fly from Dubai into Islamabad? They'll be able to pull that altogether and hopefully be able to find out. So he's in Pakistan, let's say, who did he talk to?

ACOSTA: All right, Drew Griffins. A lot to consider there. Appreciate the information and we'll be staying with you as well throughout the morning. And in a few minutes, we're going to be getting some information from our Reza Sayah who is in Pakistan. He is going to join us at the half hour and hopefully, we'll have some information on those connections out there.

CHETRY: As we were learning this morning, this suspect is a Pakistani descent and recently became a United States citizen and our Reza Sayah is in Islamabad and we're going to be talking with him about any connections there this morning. We're going to take a quick break. Much more on this developing situation. It's developing minute by minute when "American Morning" comes right back, 24 minutes past the hour.


CHETRY: It's now 26 past the hour, it's a special edition of "American Morning" and if you're just joining us, there's breaking news today, an arrest in the failed Times Square car bombing attempt. We want to show all the events that led up to this over the past couple of days and over the past couple of hours as well.

It all started at 6:28 p.m. New York time, Saturday. A video surveillance camera shows an SUV entering west 45th Street between Broadway and 7th Avenue. Two minutes later, a T-shirt vendor alerts a Mounted police officer about a suspicious SUV that was filling with smoke, hazard lights on, engine running.

The officer then quickly sets up a parameter, clears people out and you have to imagine how packed this area is with a lot of the Broadway shows getting set to start. Well, at 2 a.m. Sunday morning there, Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly announced that a potentially lethal bomb that was composed of backyard barbecue propane tanks as well as MD88 firecrackers and alarm clocks found inside of that Nissan Pathfinder.

And amateur job they say, but one still capable of causing a significant fireball and also capable of killing pedestrians in the area by their accounts. The bomb squad then sent in to dismantle it. Now, all of the streets were then reopened by the morning, 7 a.m.

At 3:00 on Sunday afternoon, police announced that a videotape of a possible suspect had been obtained then yesterday, the SUV and the bomb component were taken to the FBI's forensic lab in Quantico, Virginia.

And finally, at 11:45 last night, a U.S. citizen, a recent U.S. citizen named Faisal Shahzad was arrested at New York's JFK Airport as he was already on a flight attempting to get back to Dubai.

And again, these are the developments that we've learned this morning. We're continuing to follow all of the latest on this case right now. We have our reporters find out in many of the areas, one includes the last known address of this suspect, Faisal Shahzad in Connecticut.

ACOSTA: That's right, yes. There was a brief press conference at the FBI had in Bridgeport, Connecticut at that - one of those last known addresses of Faisal Shahzad and the FBI agent in charge there Kim (Mertz) did not say a whole lot. I mean, she came out and she basically said that the public in the Bridgeport, Connecticut area is safe, but they're not really saying anymore at this time.

But obviously, our Deb Feyerick is on the scene. She's watching the developments on the ground there. We'll be checking in with her, you know, as the morning goes on because we want to find out what exactly the authorities are doing there. I mean, it's standard operating procedure and a lot of these scenes is to send your technicians, your forensic experts and so forth -

CHETRY: -- as much information -

ACOSTA: Yes, exactly, computes, you know, laptops, cellphones, anything they can find.

CHETRY: Also, not ruling out this morning and I'm sure this is still part of the investigation about whether or not this person is working with anyone else.

ACOSTA: Right, yes, and we're going to get to all of that throughout the morning, this morning. I want to thank you for joining us. Stick with us, we'll be back in a few moments. It's 29 minutes after the hour.


KIRAN CHETRY, ANCHOR: It's 5:32 here in New York and we are continuing coverage of a special edition of American Morning. I'm Kiran Chetry.

JIM ACOSTA, ANCHOR: And I'm Jim Acosta in for John Roberts. If you're just joining us, there is breaking news this morning, an arrest in the failed Times Square bomb plot.

Here is what we know right now. Attorney General Eric Holder identified the suspect earlier this morning. His name is Faisal Shahzad. Shahzad was nabbed at JFK Airport around the midnight trying to leave the country on a flight to Dubai. He is a U.S. citizen. We should note a Pakistani descent naturalized a little over a year ago. Law enforcement officials tell us that they had a photo of him because of that change in his status. CHETRY: Yes, that photo showed - showed it to the man who sold the Nissan Pathfinder to him and he, indeed said, yes, this is the man I sold it to. He identified Shahzad as the man who bought the car from him $1800 cash and the authorities are saying that the sale was handled without any formal paperwork.

ACOSTA: Incredible, that SUV was packed with explosives and found smoking on 45th Street and Broadway Saturday afternoon. The FBI confirms to us that it was flown to their forensics lab in Quantico, Virginia for further analysis yesterday.

And there are a lot happening overnight. There has been plenty of police activity in Bridgeport, Connecticut we should know. Officers have roped off an area around the house that's believed to be the last known address for the suspect, Faisal Shahzad.

The FBI has held a news conference there within the last hour. Deb Feyerick is in Bridgeport, Connecticut for us this morning, and Deb, there was some activity there going on earlier this mornig. The FBI special agent in charge in Connecticut held a very press conference, but only a few details out of that briefing.

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Actually, they were a few details, but they were good details. For example, as you said that one of the most important thing was to make sure that the area here in Bridgeport, Connecticut was indeed secure.

That indicates that they were concerned that there might be some bomb components perhaps in the home they were searching. A second piece of information that she gave us is that they have a search warrant that they're executing. The reason that's important is because clearly everybody has the list of what is they expect to find inside that house.

So they may be looking for bomb components. They may be looking for cellphones or computers, things like that. All things that they can use to sort of piece together exactly who this person was. How he got his information? How he learned how to build a bomb even though it was a crude bomb and the reason that it didn't ignite was simply because there wasn't enough energy to ignite those explosives. Really they were just sort of a rapid burn.

Right now, we are told that law enforcement officials, their chief goal within the last 48 hours really as this all begun to unravel was simply to find where this person was. I know that we've heard Fran Townsend earlier say, that perhaps they had him under surveillance, but there's also the very real possibility that in fact, they wanted to make sure that he did not leave the country.

And that's why it's important to determine what he was doing on the plane? How he got on the plane? And whether he purchased the tickets so late that his name didn't even appear on a manifest until the plane was pulling away from the gate.

So those are all things that are under investigation. These are all sort of how investigators move this long, sort of piece by piece, but really it's the car that was bought here and the license plate that came from this area that really led investigators to sort of piece together who Faisal Shahzad really is.

ACOSTA: Right, Deb, and until the law enforcement folks come out and explain in detail for us exactly how these last 72 hours went down, from the moment that car was - that SUV was parked in Times Square to the arrest that happened 11:45 last night at JFK Airport as that plane was pulling away from the jet bridge, we really don't know exactly what Mr. Shahzad's movements were. Who he was in contact with? What exactly he was doing?

So all of this is developing minute by minute, and I, you kow, you and I have been on countless scenes like the one you're standing in front of right now, Deb, I'm just wondering as you look around, I mean, do we see activity in the house or are they in the house right now? Have we seen them pull anything out, bags, boxes?

FEYERICK: They have basically kept us all the down the block. Now, we're going to sort of push in the general direction as to where they're looking, but we can tell you there are probably about two dozen FBI agents probably more. All of them were wearing FBI jackets. They had sort of forensic teams.

They were going inside the house. They are the ones who really call through everything. They know exactly what it is they're looking for and they know exactly what they should be searching for. So they're in the house right. We are told that the search warrant is actually under seal so we may not even know what is in that search warrant until later when Shahzad shows up in court down in Manhattan.

So - but again, you know, this is - they're just sort of figuring out where he was and who he was talking to. We were told by law enforcement source that Shahzad also had a roommate, but we're not sure where that roommate was. Was it at this location? Was it in a location that we were in the middle night at about 1:00 when the Attorney General was holding his press conference? So they're trying to track all the people down.

ACOSTA: Right.

FEYERICK: But really their priority, their goal is to make sure they got Shahzad.

ACOSTA: Yes and that's a critical element in all these, Deb, as to who this gentleman was in contact with over the last 48 to 72 hours. We really don't know. And if there was a potential roommate, that person has to be talked to and interviewed and questioned.

So, you know, there's a lot to be developed at this point. A lot of information still forthcoming. Deb Feyerick on the scene in Bridgeport, Connecticut for us this morning. Deb, thanks and we will be checking back with you throughout morning. Deb, thank you - Kiran.

CHETRY: Yes, as we've been saying, you know, information has been coming in and new developments have been coming in all morning. One of them that we are actually working to confirm right now as well is some reporting from the "Wall Street Journal."

They are quoting authorities from the Dubai Airlines, the Dubai-based Emirates Airlines who say, that three other passengers were removed from that aircraft where this suspect was on. They talked about the security procedures, (inaudible) of all of the passengers and the thorough, thorough rescreening is a flight obviously delayed several hours in the wake of this happening.

But again, we are contacting all of our law enforcement officials to try to get confirmation at least some clarity. I mean, sometimes people are just questions routine.

ACOSTA: Exactly, it's difficult to know whether or not that is just standard operating procedure. That they just wanted to talk to the people who were seated around him on the flight. People he may have been speaking with at the gate before the flight was boarded. I mean, these are all steps in the investigative process.

One of those steps could stand out more than others or they may not. We just don't know. We don't know whether or not Shahzad was working in conjunction with other suspects at this point or whether he was acting alone. All of those details are still waiting to be developed by law enforcement.

CHETRY: And also one of the things that we still are not sure of yet what charges may actually come against Faisal Shahzad. They have not yet been announced. Overnight, Attorney General Eric Holder said it was clear that the intent of this act was to kill Americans. Let's listen.


ERIC HOLDER, ATTORNEY GENERAL: 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 the Department of Homeland Securities Customs and Border Protection.

This investigation is ongoing as 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.


CHETRY: Our Jason Carroll is live at lower Manhattan where Shahzad will be arraigned later today and as we were saying, Jason, it's still unclear what charges he may be facing today.

JASON CARROLL, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: That is correct, that is correct, Kiran. Waiting for those charges to be unveiled here. We do know that Faisal Shahzad will be brought here where he will be held in a federal detention center while he goes through formal processing. He will formally be charged at some point later today.

Obviously being brought here from JFK with that traumatic ending happened at about 11:45 last night. That is when federal investigators took Faisal Shahzad into custody after he had boarded that Emirates air flight 202 bound for Dubai. Again, we're hearing all these back and forth about how the plane had just pulled back from the gate. It was brought back to the gate so federal authorities could make their arrest. Investigators believing that this is the very same man who purchased that Nissan Pathfinder used in that failed bombing at Times Square.

And based on the fact that they were able linked him to that car, linked him to the sale of the car $1800, bought on Craig's List from another man. At this point, waiting to hear from investigators down here in terms of whether or not he acted alone or was working with someone else - Kiran.

CHETRY: Still a lot of questions this morning and of course, we have you down at the courthouse following the latest developments if anything breaks out of there. Jason Carroll for us this morning. Thanks.

ACOSTA: And Kiran, the suspect in the box Times Square bombing is a Pakistani-American who's just back from a trip to Pakistan. The Justice Department says, he was headed back there when he was arrested at JFK Airport, is he connected to the Taliban in Pakistan? That's the big question this morning and what role is the Pakistani government playing in the investigation.

Let's turn now to CNN international correspondent, Reza Sayah who is working his sources in Pakistan and joins us live from Islamabad. So, Reza, I mean that is a big question at this hour, that is something that law enforcement officials as you know here in the U.S. are focusing on at this very hour. What do you know at this point?

REZA SAYAH, CNN INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Yes, this question we simply don't know the answer to at this point, but important new information coming in to CNN about this investigation within the past half hour, we have learned that U.S. government officials have contacted Pakistani government officials about this investigation.

According to Pakistan's Interior Minister, Minister Rehman Malik, his government has been given Faisal Shahzad's name and Islamabad is now asking the U.S. government for more information. Here's a statement by the Interior Minister, "We will fully cooperate and help the government of the United States of America to identify and bring this suspect and his associates to justice."

Also, reaction today in Islamabad from the office of Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, the spokesperson for the president, telling CNN, "It is unfortunate that this man is from Pakistan, but it is also clear is a U.S. national. It's much too early in the investigation to reach a conclusion, but it's Pakistan's position that we are prepared to help the international community in the fight against militancy and extremism."

Obviously, this is news that Pakistani government did not want to hear with all their past links to terror plots, but this is something they'll have to deal with. Their immediate reaction right now has been disappointment, but they're also condemning this attempted terror plots in New York City and also offering their support - Jim. ACOSTA: And Reza, I mean, the interesting - I mean, it's interesting that the Pakistani government would point out that he is a U.S. national. I mean, that's interesting that in that brief statement that that was pointed out there, but you know, I'm just curious because in the last 24 hours, we learned some details about that video that was released by a Taliban group out of Pakistan.

I guess, I'm just curious what you make of it because the police commissioner here in New York, Rey Kelly, at least at one point yesterday seemed to say that well, we're not so sure whether or not these two things can be definitely linked. What can you tell us? I mean, it was - it was compelling that that video did come out.

SAYAH: Yes, the timing was certainly interesting. This was Sunday night, all of a sudden, you got a videotape surfaced with Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban who was believed to have been killed in a U.S. drawn strike back in January.

But last week Pakistani Intelligence official said that he indeed is alive in this videotape believe to have been tapes on April 4. Hakimulla Mehsud doesn't mention New York. He doesn't mention Times Square, but he warns that U.S. will be attacked in various cities.

Now is there a link between that message and this attempted bombing? Is this man Faisal Shahzad links to a wider network? These militant groups who have safe havens here in Pakistan's tribal region? Is he working alone? These are questions that we simply don't have the answer to, but again, according to the interior minister, they will be helping U.S. investigators answer these questions.

CHETRY: Reza, I just - I want to ask you a question because I think we're talking about two videos as well. The one that you're referring to showing Hakimullah Mehsud promising a launch, those attacks against the U.S. and then there was another one apparently by the (Tarik E Taliban) Pakistan group congratulating.

Offering congratulations to the Muslim community on the jaw-breaking blow to (Satan's) USA, that when they appeared to claim credit for the actual Times Square attack. Even though, when we spoke yesterday to Ray Kelly, the Police Commissioner, he didn't seem to believe there was a connection at that time.

SAYAH: Yes, that was a video hosted on Youtube before the Hakimullah Mehsud videotape came out and just to let you know, (Tarik Taliban) Pakistan is another name for the Pakistani Taliban. In that previous video, you have reportedly the voice of (Kari Hussein) another Taliban commander.

But it is impossible to verify whether this was indeed (Kari Hussein's) voice and if indeed it was his voice, if there's any link between the Pakistani Taliban and this incident. In the past, the Pakistani Taliban has been known to claim responsibility for attempted attacks in the west. It's the way they inflate their reputation, but right now, there's no evidence that these two are linked.

CHETRY: Very interesting stuff. Thanks for bringing us the latest and we'll be checking in with you, Reza throughout the morning from Islamabad. Thanks.

The president and the administration officials are also tracking these breaking developments and our Dan Lothian is live in Washington for us with the latest from the White House right now. Good morning, Dan.

DAN LOTHIAN, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Good morning, Kiran. Well, we're still waiting to get official word from the White House. Trying to get some specific questions, first of all, when was the president first alerted that investigators had this individual and the sites that they were looking for him?

Secondly, when was the president alerted that an arrest has been made and who was the one that gave that information to the president? We still don't have the answers to those questions, but I can tell you that the president has been briefed extensively on the investigation throughout yesterday.

We were told that John (Brennan), his top counterterrorism adviser was giving him briefings. This is an addition to briefings that he received on Sunday when he was headed out to Louisiana to check on the oil spill and get the latest information there.

While there, the president talked about the bomb attempt in New York City and he said that his administration would do whatever it would take to keep Americans safe and to make sure that justice is done in this case. This administration has been very clear in the last few days and getting out in front of a lot of these major crises that's been happening - that have been happening here in this country.

And so we pretty much expect that the president will be saying something publicly this morning, although we do not know that right now. I can tell you that the president does have a public event scheduled for - just shortly after 11:00, he will be making a speech to the business council so perhaps that's when the president will make remarks or perhaps even at early in the day, but right now, waiting to get official comment from the White House don't have it yet - Kiran.

CHETRY: Dan Lothian for us this morning on standby for when we do hear some official word. Thanks so much.

ACOSTA: And coming up in a few minutes, we're going to be updating everybody on the progress of this investigation and also we're going to be talking to a terrorism expert, Paul (Cruickshank) who is going to be standing by for us. So we've had him on the show before and he's got a lot of information that we're going to be sharing with you in just a few moments. So stick with us. It's 48 minutes after the hour.


ACOSTA: Back to "American Morning." If you're just joining us, there is breaking news this morning, an arrest in that failed Times Square car bomb plot over the weekend. Here's what we know right now.

Here is what we know right now. Attorney General Eric Holder identified the suspect earlier this morning. His name is Faisal Shahzad. Shahzad was nabbed at JFK Airport around the midnight trying to leave the country on a flight to Dubai. He is a U.S. citizen. A Pakistani descent naturalized just a little over a year ago. Law enforcement officials tell us that they had a photo of him because of that recent status change -- Kiran.

CHETRY: Yes, they say it showed - they showed it to the man who sold the Nissan Pathfinder to him. He identified Shahzad as the man who indeed bought that car for $1800 cash. They say there was no formal paperwork associated with that sale. That it was a Craig's List purchase.

ACOSTA: And as we remember we've been telling throughout the last 72 hours. That SUV was packed with explosives and found smoking on 45th Street in Broadway, Saturday afternoon in Times Square. The FBI confirms to us that SUV was flown to their forensics lab in Quantico, Virginia for further analysis yesterday.

CHETRY: So, you know, we are learning more information by the minute. But again, a lot of big questions about this plot and the investigation going forward, and whether or not the suspect, Faisal Shahzad actually acted alone or whether or not, they were any co- conspirators.

Joining us now to talk about the big break in the case, terrorism analyst, Paul (Cruickshank). Paul, you're actually working on a special for "Anderson Cooper 360" on al-Qaeda. You know a lot about terror groups and their movements and some of their operations in this situation. At least what we're hearing some of the reporting that he's telling law enforcement questioning him that he acted alone.

PAUL CRUICKSHANK, TERRORISM ANALYST: Well, that's very unclear at this point whether he acted alone or not. In previous instances where we've seen bombing plots, bombing attacks, there's often being a group of people involved. People designing the bomb, making the bomb components and so on and so forth. So it's unclear that authorities faced whether he is acting alone or not.

If he's not acting alone, they'll be a significant concern that they are other people still out there maybe now with nothing to lose. In the U.K. in 2007, there was an example of a failed bombing attack in London, and then just a few days later, the bomber strike all the way out to (Glasgow) to launch an attack there. So there may be cause for concern here - Kiran.

ACOSTA: And what do you make of - I mean, we're just talking to Reza in Pakistan just a few moments ago about this potential connection. It's obviously not confirmed to the Taliban in Pakistan. Obviously, the administration and law enforcement officials have been focusing on this. How likely a scenario is that? What do you make of that scenario?

CRUICKSHANK: It certainly possible the Pakistani Taliban (inaudible) put out some of these claims. Sometimes they've been crying wolf and it's not really been them, but in other cases, it actually being them. For example in 2008, in January, in Barcelona, there's a plot, Spanish authorities believe that was the Pakistani Taliban. Shortly after that, the Pakistani Taliban put out a statement. There's just been convictions in Spain on that plot. So it's certainly possible it's the Pakistani Taliban. This is a group that's now moved with al Qaeda and it's leadership has said time and time again in recent months that it wants to attack American cities.

CHETRY: And when we put some of the information together. What we're getting about who this person was 30 years old and a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan. He recently became a U.S. citizen. In fact, it was in April of 1ast year, since then - they've also been able to determine by some of the flight records.

And some of his - some of the customs information that he flew to Dubai and that e was overseas, not sure if he actually stayed there or went to other places for about eight months. Put together, what are some of those tell you if anything about what he may have been doing?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, (inaudible) with a lot of these previous terrorist cases, you see people actually leaving the Unites States or other western countries and go to Pakistan to get a sort of terrorist training that could make them into dangerous terrorists.

The other part of it is, you know, if he was living in the Unites States for a period of time before he became naturalized and there are some indications this morning that he was here for several years. (Inaudible) to radicalized here in the United States (inaudible) growing radicalization in the United States over the last year or so. That's what officials tell us. There had been 16 cases in the last year of Americans becoming implicated with terrorism. That the surge of the numbers and it's very, very worrying to American counterterrorism officials.

ACOSTA: And do you make of the fact that, I mean, you just (inaudible) to this that he went through the naturalization process become a U.S. citizen while potentially harboring this year. So evidently, this is a potential avenue for some of the terrorists if they feel that they can get to this process.

CRUICKSHANK: That's exactly right. (Inaudible) the Barcelona case in 2008, people coming over from Pakistan, moving to Spain. We saw last year in the U.K. (inaudible) Manchester people coming. All of the students from Pakistan to the U.K., this might well be another example of that. He certainly if he did have his radical views, he certainly camouflage these to the people here who have obtained his naturalization process.

ACOSTA: I mean they're big implications for that process if that's the case.

CHETRY: It means that it's easier to travel, you know, you have more freedom of movement obviously and potentially you're under the radar more.

CRUICKSHANK: American citizens are al-Qaeda's profit for cruise. They're the ones who know this country the best that (inaudible) the other ones that most concern now --- CHETRY: The interesting thing also was than when we've talked to you before and we've talked to other terror analysts. They've said that what differentiates the United States from some countries in Europe is that there isn't a lot of home grown terror. That radicalization is rare at least it used to be in our country, what's changed?

CRUICKSHANK: Well, it's still the case of the American (listening) communities is less radicalized on the hold than in Europe, but what's changing is there's more and more radicalization in the United States. The internet is a big venture for this particularly social media side.

Also, radical (preachers) here in the United States, we've done some reporting on this, are increasingly self confident and increasingly proactive taking advantage of the first amendment to preach al-Qaeda's ideology here even on the streets of New York just a few blocks from where we are. That's starting to change the dynamics here in the United States - Kiran.

ACOSTA: Paul Cruickshank, terrorism analyst and also working on "AC 360" special. Great information, great analysis. Thanks for talking to us and we'll be getting back in touch with you throughout the morning, and we'll be right back in just a few minutes, going to Deb Feyerick out in Connecticut with the latest on the scene there. We'll be right back.