Mayor Michael Bloomberg traveled to Washington, D.C. Wednesday to call on the federal government to close the terror gap. This, as new details surrounding the botched attack on Times Square continue to emerge.
Law enforcement sources tell the Associated Press Faisal Shahzad, 30, drove a different SUV into Times Square from Connecticut last Wednesday. He then went back again with another vehicle the day before the attack.
Shahzad is accused of trying to blow up an explosives-filled Nissan Pathfinder on 45th Street Saturday night.
Shahzad has reportedly told the FBI that he trained in Pakistan's tribal region of Waziristan, which sparked fears that the failed bombing was part of an international plot. However, investigators say they still have not been able to confirm those statements and have yet to link him to any terrorist group.
It is unclear when Shahzad will go before a judge, but the New York Times is reporting he has waived his right to a speedy arraignment.
Shahzad is being charged with detonating a weapon of mass destruction, attempted car bombing and obstructing interstate and foreign commerce by trying to kill and maim United States citizens.
Sources say investigators also questioned his family in Connecticut and Colorado. The federal complaint filed Tuesday against Shahzad says he also had a semiautomatic assault weapon inside a car he parked at John F. Kennedy International Airport's short-term lot, right before he boarded a Dubai-bound flight on Monday. Police Commissioner Ray Kelly says Shahzad purchased the gun in Connecticut in March.
Mayor Pushes For Stricter Weapons Control
Testifying before the Senate Homeland Security panel today, the mayor called on the federal government to tighten gun and explosive regulations so suspected terrorists will no longer be able to buy weapons.
“At a time when the threat of terrorism is still very real, as we in New York City know all too well, it is imperative that Congress close this terror gap in our gun laws – and close it quickly,” Bloomberg said. “The car bomb the NYPD found in Times Square on Saturday night was not the only attempted terrorist attack on our city since 9/11 – far from it. And sadly, it won’t be the last."
"All of our collective efforts would benefit from the passage of this bill, which would exclude anyone who is on the terror watch list from being able to legally purchase a gun, obtain a permit to buy explosives, or a license to sell them,” said the police commissioner. “From the standpoint of the NYPD, it would also complement the aggressive anti-gun strategy we already have in place."
Bloomberg also said he wants more homeland security funding for the city.
Earlier in the day, the mayor continued his thank-you tour at the Sixth Precinct in the West Village. He expressed his gratitude to bomb squad members who responded to the explosives-packed SUV in Times Square on Saturday night.
Authorities Look At Fireworks Shop Video
Phantom Fireworks, a fireworks shop on the New York-Pennsylvania border, is said to have surveillance video of Shahzad as he purchased fireworks authorities say were used in the car bomb.
While the owners of "Phantom Fireworks" have been asked not to release it, they said it shows a man, believed to be Shahzad, buying M-88 firecrackers. They said that Shahzad spent about $100 on six to eight packs of 36 firecrackers, but the combined firepower of his purchase was not great.
"He obviously attempted to light a firecracker intending them to chain ignite and mass detonate. Well, with consumer products, since there's so little pyrotechnic composition in them, they simply do not mass detonate, they do not chain ignite," said Phantom Fireworks spokesman William Weimer.
The owner says Shahzad had to show his driver's license, and fill out an application to buy the firecrackers.
Meanwhile, all the media attention paid to a piece of Times Square surveillance video after the bomb scare may have helped authorities make an arrest.
The video showed a man changing his shirt near the Nissan Pathfinder. While it turned out he was not a suspect in the case, a law enforcement official told the Associated Press that Shahzad could have been lulled into a false sense of security.
Authorities told the AP that Shahzad may have thought investigators were on the wrong trail.
Airlines To Check No-Fly List More FrequentlyMeanwhile, airlines are stepping up security measures in wake of criticism following apparent security lapses that allowed Shahzad aboard a plane.
Homeland security officials say airlines will now have to check for updated no-fly lists within two hours of being notified, as opposed to every 24 hours.
White House officials said changing the no-fly list rules is part of the administration's commitment to closing any potential loopholes in the security screening process.
"What we wanted to do was ensure that there was a mechanism in place that requires that list is changed," said White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs. "Again the airline could do it frequently, but they could it also do it more frequently, but it seemed common sense to the president and administration to simply put in place the requirement that be done every two hours if somebody is added to that list."
Shahzad was able to buy a one-way ticket with cash and get on his Dubai-bound Emirates Airlines flight, despite being on the list because the airline did not look at an updated list.
He was arrested late Monday night at JFK, after Customs and Border Protection agents who were on the lookout for Shahzad recognized his name on a passenger manifest and ordered the flight to return to the gate.
According to the Associated Press, people close to the investigation say authorities were tailing Shahzad on Monday, but lost track of him.
"We prefer that these things don't happen, but it's not that infrequent quite frankly for surveillance where you may lose someone for some period of time,” said Police Commissioner Kelly on NY1’s Inside City Hall last night. “The good news here is that this person was apprehended after 53 hours."
The complaint says Shahzad has confessed to buying the Pathfinder, rigging it with explosives, and parking it in Times Square. It also says he used a prepaid cell phone to make and receive calls from Pakistan.