Shahzad told the court that he received bomb-making training in December 2009 from Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Pakistani Taliban, in Waziristan, an Al Qaeda and Taliban stronghold which serves as a center for launching attacks against U.S.-led forces in Afghanistan. During the 40 days he spent in Waziristan, Shahzad made a "pact" with his trainers to "wage an attack inside the United States of America."
While in Pakistan, Shahzad was reportedly introduced to Qari Hussain, commander of TTP who trains suicide bombers. Shahzad returned to the U.S. in February 2010 with $5,000 from TTP, and, during the next two months, received $12,000 in cash from unnamed co-conspirators in Pakistan whom he believed worked for TTP.
Leaders of TTP claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing as revenge for the April killings of Al Qaeda's two top leaders in Iraq, as well as for U.S. interference in Muslim countries. Shahzad admitted that he attempted to detonate the explosives in New York as retribution for U.S. military activities in Muslim countries. "It's a war," Shahzad told the court, adding "I am part of that. I am part of the answer to the U.S. terrorizing the Muslim nations and the Muslim people, and on behalf of that, I'm revenging the attacks."
In July 2010, TTP released a video featuring Shahzad, entitled, “A Brave Effort by Faisal Shahzad to Attack United States in its own Land.” In the video, which was recorded in Pakistan six months prior to the attempted bombing in Times Square, Shahzad explained that he has been planning to join his “brothers in jihad” since the September 11 terrorist attacks. He also urged other Muslims in the West to follow his example. “It is not difficult at all to wage an attack on the West, and specifically in the U.S., and completely defeat them,” Shahzad said. “Get up and learn from me and make an effort.”
In the video, Shahzad claimed that an "attack on the United States will also be a revenge attack for all the mujahideen [Muslim warriors] and the muhajireen [emigrants] and the weak and oppressed people of Muslims [sic]." Shahzad also admitted that he was seeking revenge for the deaths of Beitullah Mehsud, the former leader of TTP who was killed in August 2009, and Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the former leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq who was killed in an airstrike in June 2006.
Shahzad also appeared in a video alongside Hakimullah Mehsud, the current leader of TTP, threatening that "we are planning to wage an attack on your side."
Prior to the attempted bombing in Times Square, Shahzad stayed in regular contact with members of TTP through software programs that they had installed on his laptop while he was training with them in Pakistan. For three months prior to the attempted attack, Shahzad also monitored Times Square through live video feeds online to determine “which areas of Times Square drew the largest crowds and the times when those areas would be most crowded,” according to court documents.
Law enforcement officials have alleged that the explosives would have sprayed shrapnel and metal parts, killing pedestrians, had they not been dismantled. Shahzad later admitted that he specifically targeted pedestrians because they would be easier to kill than people driving in vehicles.
According to authorities, Shahzad also considered attacking other targets, including Rockefeller Center, Grand Central Terminal, the World Financial Center and a Connecticut-based defense contractor that manufactures helicopters for the U.S. military. Shahzad told federal authorities that he was prepared to conduct more attacks until he was captured or killed.
Shahzad reportedly told investigators he was influenced by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric living in Yemen who targets English-speaking Muslim audiences with radical online lectures that encourage attacks against the West and non-Muslims. In addition, Shahzad reportedly admitted that he was also inspired by another cleric, Abdullah al-Faisal, a Jamaica-born Muslim preacher who served four years in a British prison for urging his followers to kill non-Muslims, including Americans, Hindus and Jews. Al-Faisal is the "imam and spiritual advisor" of Revolution Muslim (RM), a New York-based anti-Semitic organization that justifies terrorist attacks and other forms of violence against non-Muslims.
Following his arrest, federal officials searched Shahzad's apartment in Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he lived with a roommate. He previously lived with his wife and two children in Shelton, Connecticut, for three years before his family returned to Pakistan.
In a 2006 email to a group of friends, Shahzad expressed anger about American troops in Muslim countries, saying "followers of Islam are attacked and occupied by foreign infidel forces." He also wondered how Muslims should fight back when "rockets are fired at us and Muslim blood flows? In Palestine, Afghan, Iraq, Chechnya and else where." In the same email, Shahzad warned, "The crusade has already started against Islam and Muslims with cartoons of our beloved Prophet PBUH as War drums."
Shahzad, who was born in Pakistan, gained U.S. citizenship in April 2009. He was previously granted a student visa in 1998 and attended Southern University in Washington, D.C. before transferring to the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, where he received a degree in computer science and engineering. Shahzad, who was granted a workers' visa in 2002, also completed a Masters degree in Business Administration.
Long Island resident Mohammad Younis, 44, was arrested in September 2010 for illegally operating a hawala system, which transfers money across borders using a network of individuals on an honor code instead of banks with traceable records, between the U.S. and Pakistan. While one of the transfers allegedly facilitated the attempted Times Square bombing, federal authorities have alleged that Younis was unaware of the intended use of the funds.
In addition, three Pakistani men were arrested in Boston and Portland in connection with the investigation. The three men - Aftab Ali Khan, Pir Khan and Mohammad Shafiq Rahman – all married American women and have been arrested by immigration officials. They have not been charged on terrorism offenses.
Pakistani officials have detained one man in Karachi in connection with the case. At least four others have reportedly been detained in Pakistan for questioning. Among those detained in Pakistan are Tauhid Ahmed, who reportedly communicated with Shahzad via email, and Muhammad Rehan, who told investigators that he and Shahzad traveled to Peshawar, Pakistan, for three weeks in July 2009. Rehan was arrested at a mosque reportedly linked to Pakistani-based terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohammed.