ROBERT SIEGEL, host:
Now, to another case of terrorism in the courts, the man accused of trying to set off a car bomb in Times Square pleaded guilty this afternoon. Faisal Shahzad was indicted just last week on 10 terrorism and weapons charges.
NPR's Dina Temple-Raston has been following the story and joins us now. And, Dina, was this guilty plea a surprise?
DINA TEMPLE-RASTON: Not really. I mean, there was some question about whether Shahzad would enter a plea in the courtroom today, and he was supposed to do that, and that's what we were expecting to hear, some sort of plea. And then he appeared in the courtroom just really briefly, and then we heard that both prosecutors and the defense have asked for a delay.
And at that point, it was pretty clear that there was going to be some sort of plea in the works to avoid a trial. Now, it just didn't happen in front of everyone.
SIEGEL: So what did he admit to?
TEMPLE-RASTON: Essentially, everything, all 10 charges brought against him. Remember, he drove that SUV full of homemade explosives into Times Square back on May 1st, and the bomb never went off, but even so, he's admitted to conspiring to use a weapon of mass destruction, transporting an explosive with the intent to kill or harm and then various gun charges as well.
And he also told officials that the Pakistani Taliban helped him train in explosives after he traveled to Pakistan. He said the group provided some $12,000 to finance this plot. And even with all of that, the bomb he made was a dud. He didn't use the right chemicals. He had a makeshift detonating system. All the car bomb did was smoke and spark. It never even really caught fire.
SIEGEL: Dina, we know that he have been cooperating with the authorities for weeks, but now he has admitted to all the charges against him and there wasn't an agreement announced on sentencing. Does that mean that his cooperation didn't help him at all?
TEMPLE-RASTON: Well, that's really unclear. I mean, it could help him during sentencing, but that seems pretty unlikely. I mean, the Department of Justice went to great pains to say that there wasn't a plea agreement, and that they're still investigating all of this.
Others who pleaded out to terrorism charges and have cooperated with authorities haven't seen much of a break in their sentences where their charges either. And officials I spoke with said that several of Shahzad's charges carry life sentences, and that's not likely to be reduced even with his cooperation. We'll know for sure on October 5th. That's when his sentencing is scheduled for.
SIEGEL: Do any of these charges carry a death sentence?
TEMPLE-RASTON: It's unclear whether they will seek that.
SIEGEL: Okay, thank you, Dina.
TEMPLE-RASTON: You're welcome.
SIEGEL: That's NPR's Dina Temple-Raston speaking to us from New York with the news again that Faisal Shahzad, the man charged with trying to set off a car bomb in Times Square, today pleaded guilty to all the charges against him.
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