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New York bomb plot suspect likely acted alone in U.S., officials say

NEW YORK — The Pakistani-American accused of a failed car bombing in Times Square is believed to have worked alone in the United States on the plot after returning in February from a five-month visit to his native land, authorities said Wednesday.

They said they have yet to find a wider link to extremist groups.

Two new surveillance videos emerged of the bombing suspect, Faisal Shahzad. Police said that one video shows him in a white baseball cap walking away from the smoking, bomb-laden Nissan Pathfinder parked in the bustling heart of New York City.

The second video shows him buying a weak batch of fireworks in a store in Pennsylvania, according to the shop's owner.

Shahzad, 30 and the son of a retired air force official in Pakistan, faces terrorism and weapons charges after authorities said he admitted rigging the Pathfinder with a crude bomb of firecrackers, propane and alarm clocks based on explosives training he received in Pakistan. He did not appear in Manhattan federal court for a second day.

A law enforcement official told the AP that authorities don't believe there any other U.S. suspects in the plot and that several arrests in Pakistan in the past two days were not related.

Law enforcement officials in Washington said they had not verified statements investigators said Shahzad had made that he was trained in Pakistan for the attack. All the officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the case.

Interviews Wednesday with business owners shed light on a series of purchases Shahzad made of guns and fireworks near his Bridgeport, Conn., home and in Pennsylvania that authorities say proved a rapidly accelerating plot.

Shahzad is on video buying 36 M88 fireworks — a consumer-grade product mostly made of paper — from Phantom Fireworks in Matamoras, Pa., on March 8, said store vice president William Wiemer.

Even if used together, the fireworks couldn't have caused a large explosion, Wiemer said.

"The M88 he used wouldn't damage a watermelon. Thank goodness he used that," said company president Bruce Zoldan.

Police in Shelton, Conn., said Shahzad legally bought a Kel-Tech rifle from a dealer after passing a criminal background check and a 14-day waiting period. The owner of the gun shop declined to comment.

Shahzad, who was charged Tuesday in the plot, was hauled off a Dubai-bound plane he had boarded Monday night at Kennedy Airport despite being under surveillance and placed on the federal no-fly list.

"I was expecting you. Are you NYPD or FBI?" Shahzad told Customs officials who came aboard the jet to arrest him, an official with knowledge of the investigation said.

Fast facts

New no-fly rules

The government said Wednesday it would require airlines to check no-fly lists within two hours of being notified of updates, after Shahzad was able to board his Emirates flight despite being placed on the list. The airline apparently failed to check the latest version of the terror watch list that included Shahzad's name. Until now, airlines had been required to check for list updates every 24 hours.

New York bomb plot suspect likely acted alone in U.S., officials say 05/05/10 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 5, 2010 10:39pm]
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