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Official: NYC bomb suspect looked at other targets

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Associated Press
May 19, 2010
— The Times Square car bomb suspect had considered bombing Grand Central Terminal or other New York City landmarks before settling on Times Square as his target, a law enforcement official told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Faisal Shahzad also considered Rockefeller Center in midtown Manhattan, the World Financial Center near ground zero and Sikorsky Inc., a defense contractor with an office in his Connecticut hometown, before deciding to drive an SUV rigged with a homemade bomb into Times Square, the official told the AP on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation.


The Pakistani-American eventually abandoned the other targets and did not plan any other attacks after the failed May 1 bombing, the official said.


On Tuesday, Shahzad appeared in a U.S. court for the first time since his May 3 arrest on terrorism and weapons charges. He had been under guard at a Brooklyn hotel while investigators questioned him until then, another law enforcement official told the AP on condition of anonymity because of the ongoing investigation.


Federal authorities released a picture Wednesday of a sullen-faced, bearded Shahzad taken shortly after his arrest.


Authorities say Shahzad’s willingness to talk kept him out of court for two weeks, speeding up the progress of an investigation into his plot to set off the homemade car bomb on a spring Saturday evening amid hundreds of people enjoying the tourist haven.


He did not enter a plea Tuesday to five felony charges including attempted use of weapons of mass destruction and attempted acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, each of which carry potential penalties of life in prison.


The hearing lasted only 10 minutes. Shahzad, 30, a Pakistan-born U.S. citizen, confirmed with a “yes” that his financial affidavit was accurate, permitting him to be appointed an assistant public defender, Julia Gatto, who declined to comment afterward.


Magistrate Judge James C. Francis read him his rights, including his right to remain silent, and warned him that anything he might say could be used against him. He was detained without bail in the attack in which the bomb never exploded and no one was hurt.


The ex-budget analyst from Bridgeport, Conn., was pulled two days after the attempted attack from a Dubai-bound plane at John F. Kennedy International Airport.


Since his arrest, Shahzad “has provided valuable intelligence from which further investigative action has been taken,” the U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan said in a statement Tuesday.


Associated Press writers Colleen Long and Larry Neumeister in New York contributed to this report.

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