Would-Be Bomber Operated Under The Radar Until this week, the Pakistan-American man charged with driving a car bomb into New York's Times Square had not come to the attention of U.S. law enforcement. Although law enforcement authorities moved rapidly to identify Faisal Shahzad after the bombing attempt, they had not apparently identified him as a possible threat beforehand.
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Would-Be Bomber Operated Under The Radar

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Would-Be Bomber Operated Under The Radar

Would-Be Bomber Operated Under The Radar

Would-Be Bomber Operated Under The Radar

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Until this week, the Pakistan-American man charged with driving a car bomb into New York's Times Square had not come to the attention of U.S. law enforcement. Although law enforcement authorities moved rapidly to identify Faisal Shahzad after the bombing attempt, they had not apparently identified him as a possible threat beforehand.

STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

Counterterrorism correspondent, Dina Temple-Raston, has been following the investigation and is with us now, to help understand why he went unnoticed. Good morning.

DINA TEMPLE: Good morning.

MONTAGNE: Well, Dina, the court papers released yesterday said that Faisal Shahzad had admitted not just to driving the car bomb into Times Square, but also attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan. But is it really so surprising that American authorities didn't know about him before? I mean do they know who attends these secret camps?

TEMPLE: I think that if officials did come to check out Shahzad, it was in relation to that. Because what we understand is that he really previously had not raised any red flags.

MONTAGNE: And what do authorities say they know about why he allegedly did attempt to do this bombing?

TEMPLE: But what we don't know is did he return to Pakistan to get a fresh start after being here for 15 years, and then fall prey to terrorist groups who saw his citizenship as an easy way for him to come here and attack? Or did he actually go to Pakistan fully intending to come back to the U.S. and launch something like this? That's still unclear. I think we're going to find that out, however, in the coming days, 'cause he's talking.

MONTAGNE: Well, in the criminal complaint released yesterday, laying out the investigation, it did seem that there are a lot of things that he was very careful about to cover his tracks. And then there's this great sloppiness.

TEMPLE: I know. This happens all the time. Right? For in these cases, there's never the perfect murder. I mean, for example, he left the SUV in Times Square running with the hazard lights on. Right? But the keys were in the ignition in order for the car to keep running. But they didn't just include his car keys. They included his house keys, keys to another car he owned, all kinds of things that made it really easy for investigators to bring the case back to him.

SUV: It reminded me a little bit of hints you always see after the case is over, like in the 9/11 case. Some of the 9/11 attackers apparently told their flight instructors I don't need to learn how to land the plane. I mean, this is less drastic but there are those sorts of things that always come up.

MONTAGNE: Well, Dina, we just have really just a few seconds. But also, on the other side, he came under surveillance once he was linked to the SUV and then still managed to get on a plane going to Dubai.

TEMPLE: In a word, they lost him. For a very short amount of time, the people who were tracking him lost him. And about the time that they lost him, they picked him up again at JFK. That's the reason why Attorney General Holder said he wasn't worried that he had slipped their noose.

MONTAGNE: Dina, thanks very much.

TEMPLE: You're welcome.

MONTAGNE: NPR's Dina Temple-Raston.

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