Faisal Shahzad Makes First Court Appearance

Betwa Sharma/New York
Faisal Shahzad Makes First Court Appearance
Pakistani-American terror suspect Faisal Shahzad appeared in court for the first time since his arrest two weeks ago in the botched Times Square bombing plot to face terrorism and weapons charges and was ordered to remain behind bars.

Shahzad uttered just one word, saying "yes" when asked to confirm the accuracy of a financial statement in his arraignment proceedings that lasted about 15 minutes on Tuesday at a Manhattan federal court.

He was allowed to have a defence attorney to defend him. The 30-year-old man sat on the defence table with his court assigned lawyer Julia Gatto.

Wearing a grey sweatshirt, Shahzad was led out of the court in handcuffs after the magistrate read him his rights.

For the first time, terror suspects like Shahzad are being interrogated by a special team of investigators.

US has set up a High-value Detainee Interrogation group, or the HIG, comprising specialists from the FBI, CIA and Defense Department to question terror suspects as soon as possible after the arrest.

White House terrorism adviser John Brennan said on Tuesday that the special team had begun interrogating high-value terror suspects in the US and abroad, including Shahzad.

Authorities said that Shahzad had waived his right to initial court appearance. His decision to talk to investigators without a court appearance, that normally happens a day or two after arrest, was allowed by the law but is uncommon.

Shahzad did not enter any plea to any of the five charges against him including attempted use of weapons of mass destruction and attempting acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries -- each carrying a maximum life term.

Other charges framed against the former budget analyst are using a destructive device in an attempted violent crime, which is punishable by up to 30 years, transporting and receiving explosives and attempting to damage and destroy property with fire and explosives, which is punishable by a term of up to 20 years.

On May 1, Shahzad tried to blow up a crowded area of Times Square by leaving a Nissan pathfinder packed with explosives in the popular tourist site.

Shahzad, was arrested on May 3 while trying to escape to Dubai on an Emirates flight. He was apprehended at the John F Kennedy airport and is suspected to have been working in collusion with the Pakistani-Taliban.

Shahzad worked as a financial analyst in Connecticut where he lived with his wife. But his personal and professional life came under stress last year during the financial crisis.

In two emails, the terror suspect has expressed frustration with the state of the Muslim world.

"Shahzad ... Has provided valuable intelligence from which further investigative action has been taken," US Attorney Preet Bharara said before the hearing.

Three other Pakistani men in the US were arrested last week on suspicion of funneling money to Shahzad but they do not face criminal charges in connection with the foiled terror plot.
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