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CNN BREAKING NEWS

Times Square Bomb Arrest

Aired May 4, 2010 - 01:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


ASIEH NAMDAR, CNN ANCHOR: Right. Again, for the last 30 minutes we've been following breaking news here on CNN. An arrest has been made in a failed bombing attack in New York's Times Square. Suspect was arrested trying to leave the country at New York's JFK airport.

We don't know where he was going and we do not know -- we don't have any official confirmation if this was the U.S. citizen of Pakistani origin that was named as a potential suspect. The person who bought that Nissan Pathfinder that was filled with explosive and propane gas.

My colleagues Don Riddell will take it from here on. Keep it right here on CNN for all the latest developments.

Hello, Don.

DON RIDDELL, CNN ANCHOR: Asieh, thanks very much.

Big development this hour in the hunt for a would-be bomber. CNN has learned that an arrest has been made in connection to the failed car bombing in New York's Times Square on Saturday night.

Here's what we know right now. According to law enforcement sources, an arrest was made at JFK airport in New York around midnight local time. That was just about an hour ago.

The suspect was trying to leave the country. We do not know his intended destination. The identity of the person who was arrested has not been released. So it's unclear whether it was the man who was named as, quote, "a potential suspect," just a few hours ago.

That potential suspect was the buyer of the SUV car that was found in Times Square over the weekend, fitted with a car bomb. But it was a cash transaction, there's no paperwork. So he isn't listed as the official owner of the car.

We understand that the car was sold three weeks ago in a parking lot. A source says the buyer is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan. And investigators are looking at more than one person in connection with the unsuccessful bombing.

CNN's investigative reporter Drew Griffin is also covering developments in this story for us and he joins us now from CNN New York -- Drew.

DREW GRIFFIN, CNN INVESTIGATIVE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, the arrest apparently made as this person was trying to flee. What we don't know, Don, is where he was trying to go. We have been getting talk of a news conference that would take place here in New York City sometime in the wee hours of the morning. But we have not been able to confirm that.

My colleagues are out and about. Deb Feyerick confirming the arrest at JFK. Jeanne Meserve also confirming that -- are trying to find out the main question now, if we do have a main suspect, is this the suspect, the same person who drove this vehicle into Times Square?

Is this one in the same person who loaded this vehicle with the explosive material or if, Don, if there are more potential people that they're trying to arrest who may be involved with this? These are the questions that we all are asking right now as the police have made this arrest here in New York in the wee hours of the morning.

RIDDELL: Thanks, Drew. Let's bring in Jeanne Meserve from Washington, D.C. bureau.

Jeanne, what more do you know?

JEANNE MESERVE, CNN SECURITY CORRESPONDENT: Well, we do know that this individual who they named as a possible suspect earlier this evening was someone who was a U.S. citizen of Pakistani origin.

We do not know if that is the same individual that has been arrested tonight. But we were also told that in addition to that one person, that potential suspect, they were looking at the possibility of other people being involved.

Also, obviously, a lot of discussion and curiosity about the international links here. What I was told is that -- is that there were in fact some indications that there may have been some communications overseas. But the officials I talked to throughout the day were being very cautious about links to overseas saying that they can take any number of forms.

It could be that some individual who they were interested in was making a lot of telephone calls. But those calls might not be to anybody with any sort of terror link. It could be, for instance, some sort of family member. So there was an abundance of caution when talking to reporters today about what the possibilities were there.

I will say that we have -- did have the sense today that the tempo here was picking up because a lot of the people who ordinarily talk us to and give us some information were absolutely shutting down.

An indication that either they'd been reprimanded from above, that they were compromising potential investigative leads or that something was afoot and, in fact, they were bringing this to some kind of resolution.

As to whether this is the only arrest, I wish we had the answer at this point in time. We don't know who else they might be looking for at this point in time. RIDDELL: Just to recap, a man was arrested at JFK International Airport in New York. We understand about an hour ago. We don't know where this man was heading. But we do understand that he was attempting to take a flight overseas and, of course, depart the United States.

Let's just return to Drew Griffin now who is following this story for us in New York.

Drew, if you will, please just recap the information as we understand it regarding the sale of this car.

GRIFFIN: Three weeks ago this car apparently was being sold on Craigslist, you know, a computerized kind of a meeting ground on the Internet. A man in Connecticut says he sold this car for $1800 cash in the parking lot of a store, of a shopping mall. And that took place in Connecticut.

What's interesting about it, Don, is apparently there was no paperwork transacted. It was a cash deal. And the person drove away. And apparently the seller didn't think anything of it until he was contacted by the police that his vehicle that he sold may have been involved.

Police knew that very early on who was registered to this car. It was the person who had owned the car and had sold it and they had ruled him out as a suspect almost immediately.

But that is how this took place. So apparently this car was purchased three weeks ago. I have talked, as others of my colleague talked to bomb experts, ATF agents who have studied this kind of stuff. And one even referred to this entire scenario as a two-weeker.

In other words, it probably took about two weeks to put together this bomb and this plot. It wasn't done overnight nor was it done over months and months of planning. So that all seems to fit this timing of the purchase of this vehicle.

RIDDELL: Drew, you mentioned earlier we're expecting some kind of a press announcement possibly within the next 10 minutes. Do we know what we may expect to hear?

Jeanne Meserve was just saying a few moments from Washington that the flow of information from the authorities has tightened up over the last 24 hours.

GRIFFIN: Yes, it's tightened up quite a bit. And to answer your question, I thought there would be a news conference at 1:00. We haven't heard a peep since I made that remark which was about 40 minutes ago. So obviously this is in flux.

What we thought we would have is a news conference this morning announcing the arrest and we thought that would happen earlier rather than later. But as they are trying to get all their information together, this time slides. What is interesting about the tightness of the leaks or the information coming out of this is New York just went through a potential terrorist attack -- sizeable terrorist attack with Najibullah Zazi.

It was to be one of the biggest plots -- terrorist plots since 9/11 and there was some feeling of police agencies in the states that the arrest was rushed and that may have allowed potential suspects and potential evidence to scatter.

So I think they were being very, very cautious here with this entire investigation and within the last day, very cautious as they apparently knew they were moving in on this arrest.

RIDDELL: Well, let's bring in Tom Fuentes on that point. Tom is the former FBI assistant director. He joins us on the line from Colombia.

Tom, this does seem to me perhaps like a rather rapid arrest. Would you have expected it in a case like this? Perhaps a suspect would have been tailed for a little longer?

TOM FUENTES, TERRORISM ANALYST: Yes, I think they would have and that was probably the intention to do the surveillance a little longer. But they don't have much choice if the person is going to leave the country shortly. So, you know, they had to do what they had to do in that situation.

I'm not surprised that they were able to identify a suspect that quickly because they had the vehicle and they were able to quickly get the records. That vehicle identification number has been used to solve these cases in a hurry in many situations.

If you will recall, the first World Trade Center bombing and also the Oklahoma City bombing, in both those cases the rear axel of the truck carrying explosives was blown away but when the investigators found that axel they were able to get the vehicle identification number from that vehicle, from the axel.

They were able to get the DMV records and quickly locate the car rental allocation for both those trucks were rented in the World Trade Center One in '93. That led them to (INAUDIBLE) cell. And in 1995, it led them almost immediately to Tim McVeigh's name because he actually rented the truck in his own name.

So the vehicle identification numbers when you have them in a vehicle like that are going to lead you very quickly to at least the owner of the car. Now if that car has been stolen, then that's going to add, obviously, an obstacle.

But in this situation, that's what they'll be looking at is -- that they would have been surveilling the individual that purchased that car and tried to see from there if he had other people involved in it, check his e-mail and his cell phone records, and regular telephone records. Possibly talk to work associates or other neighbors. And find out more about the individual and if he was hiding somewhere that would make it even more suspicious that he possibly was involved in this.

RIDDELL: Tom, we know that the car was rigged with a crude propane and gasoline bomb. It, of course, didn't go off. From what you understand and from the information you have, what does that tell you about the sophistication of this plot and perhaps who may have been behind it?

FUENTES: Well, it shows that they're not very sophisticated in that they didn't know how to properly wire the explosives to make it actually go off, make it explode. Now bomb experts have told me that when you're trying to explode a propane tank like that, but they're designed to be very difficult to have exploded deliberately so that people don't blow themselves up in their backyard when they're barbecuing.

This is the type of tank used in a grill, let's say, or in recreational vehicles for heating and gas stoves like that. So they're not designed to easily explode or we'd have a lot of people killing themselves after detonating.

So you have to know what you're doing. And apparently it did not really have that much expertise to be able to get past the limitations of exploding tanks.

RIDDELL: OK, Tom, we'll leave you there for a moment. Just to bring our viewers up to date.

Within the last hour or so, an arrest has been made at JFK International Airport in New York. That arrest following the failed car bombing attempt in New York's Times Square on Saturday night.

Within the next few minutes, we are expecting a press conference from the Department of Justice, the attorney general of the United States, Eric Holder, is expected to be giving that press conference.

We thought it may have kicked off about 15 minutes ago. We are hoping that it will commence very shortly. We will of course bring that live you to as and when we have it.

Let's just return to Drew Griffin now who is following this story for us from our New York bureau.

Drew, what other thoughts do you have at this stage?

GRIFFIN: I'm sorry, I didn't hear your question, Don.

RIDDELL: What other information do you have at this stage?

GRIFFIN: I think we pretty much exhausted it. We're all just trying to confirm where the flight was that this person was trying to go to. Of course, we're trying to get a confirmation on this person's exact name. We do believe we have the name. In fact, we do believe that we are out in front of his house right now awaiting confirmation that this is the person. We believe he's 30 years old.

What we don't know and what Tom Fuentes has also been confirming is that we don't know if he is the exact person who drove this vehicle into Times Square. And I think that is one of the crucial questions that are going to be asked at this news conference. Mostly answered before we get that question.

Is this the suspect who actually loaded that vehicle up and drove it into Times Square and attempted to blow up a bunch of people down here in Times Square on Saturday night?

That's the key question. The second question, did anybody help him? Did anybody know he was doing this? Or did he have any help from overseas whether it be guidance, financial or any kind of spiritual help from overseas to do this?

These are questions we all hope to get answered at this news conference.

RIDDELL: Yes, you were saying just a few minutes ago that the flow of information from the investigating body here really has been tightened up over the last 24 hours. But with the information that we had received by that point, do we get the sense that this was an international plot maybe or certainly wasn't?

GRIFFIN: You know the speculation changed almost hour by hour as we were going through this. First we thought this must be a lone wolf. We're getting indications there was no known -- no known international context.

Then it started to become a little more interest in the international. There was the Pakistani Taliban group who was taking credit for it. Initially that was discounted. Then it was being looked at a little more seriously.

The fact of the matter is, Don, we still really do not know much about this person, the motives, why he did this, if he did this, what kind of cause he may be supporting. We just are at a roadblock.

And I think we are at a roadblock because police have, quite frankly, done a pretty darn good job of accelerating through this investigation and making this arrest without a lot of leaks coming out of their investigation.

RIDDELL: But the focus of the story in many ways is up in Connecticut now, right?

GRIFFIN: Yes. Yes. That's where we believe this man lived. That's where we now know he bought the car. He has been arrested out at JFK. But now we know he was arrested at JFK trying to flee the country.

So I think we'll focus on how he was living there. If it's the right person, if this is the person I'm looking at right now, he's lived out in Connecticut for some time. So we'll have to see what his neighbors knew, what his friends knew, what kind of circles he was traveling in.

Whether or not he belonged to a group or whether or not he didn't belong to any groups. That is all yet to be told.

RIDDELL: Let's return to Tom Fuentes, the former FBI assistant director who is listening to our coverage on the line from Colombia.

Tom, what would you expect the authorities to be asking the suspect that they have in their custody right now? How you would expect them to be treating him?

FUENTES: Well, they'll be trying to determine, first of all, his identity. They will also be getting authorization to get DNA samples, take his fingerprint and be able to start the comparison of the forensic material removed from the vehicle and from the explosive devices to see, for example, his fingerprints on the propane tanks or possibly material from his scan or his hair which would enable a DNA match and make it very difficult for him to deny that he had anything to do with the tanks.

Obviously, it will be easy to link him to the car because -- if they're able to prove that he bought it, that should be pretty easy. But you want to link him to the explosive device itself. You know, by physical evidence, first of all.

They'll also want to ask him if he'll get the information as to anyone else who may have been involved with it. Did he have accomplices here or was he led by someone overseas? I don't get the sense that this is a major international plot.

Now he may have some connections back in Pakistan if he's from Pakistan. He may have, you know, people losing contact with him around the world. Or people that share his philosophy about wanting to conduct a bombing operation.

But in terms of how amateurish the wiring of the timing was, of tank was, that doesn't sound like a real sophisticated plot. Also in this case, from the beginning it had very close similarities.

And I was saying on CNN last Sunday morning that about three years ago in London, you had propane tanks and gasoline placed in a car which was parked in front of a crowded discotheque in London.

And later you have some other individuals involved in that plot who drove the car through the front glass window at Glasgow Airport in Scotland. And in that case, it turned out to be Pakistani medical doctors.

So, you know, that's just another coincidence. But maybe this is in a way a copycat operation to that. To put gasoline, have it explode in a car in front of a crowded theater or crowded office building in New York.

RIDDELL: Tom, I'm just going to return to you in a moment. But I just want to recap for any of our viewers that are just joining us.

Within the last hour and a half or so, investigative authorities made an arrest at JFK International Airport in New York of a man they wish to speak to following the failed car bombing attempt in New York's Times Square on Saturday night.

We know that this man was trying to fly abroad but we don't know where to. We have reporters on this story in Connecticut where this car was bought three years ago. We also have correspondents in New York and in Washington, D.C.

We're on the line with Tom Fuentes, former FBI assistant director, who joins us on the line from Colombia.

Tom, this arrest was made about an hour and a half ago. How quickly would you expect the questioning to commence in a circumstance like this? Would you expect them to be taken into custody? Taking him into some kind of police facility or with the question commence immediately?

FUENTES: Well, it wouldn't commence until they had probably get him, you know, into the office somewhere. So they're going to be either driving him to one of the federal buildings in Brooklyn or possibly the federal lockup in Manhattan.

So that may take a little bit of time just to transport him to that location and then, of course, get him in. They'll do the processing and then they'll give him his Miranda rights, being the interviewing. But I wouldn't expect that to occur immediately while they're in the car unless the person just immediately wants to start talking about it.

RIDDELL: Tom Fuentes, we will just leave it there. We are expecting a press conference from the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. That's expected at 1:30 a.m. local time which is just over 10 minutes from now.

We understand the Attorney General Eric Holder will be leading that press conference with the latest on this investigation and the arrest that we have been reporting.

Here's what we know right now. According to law enforcement sources, an arrest was made at JFK International Airport at around midnight local time. That is about an hour and 20 minutes ago. The suspect was trying to leave the country. But we don't yet know his intended destination.

The identity of the person who was arrested hasn't yet been released. The authorities are keeping all these details very close to their chest. So it's unclear whether it was the man who was named as a potential suspect just a few hours ago.

That potential suspect was the buyer of the SUV car that was found in Times Square over the weekend fitted with a car bomb. But it was a cash transaction with no paperwork. So he isn't listed as the official owner of the car. That car incidentally was bought for $1800 in cash. No records, no papers were exchanged. Just the registration of the vehicle.

Now we understand the car was sold three weeks ago in a parking lot in Connecticut, our source says the buyer is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan. And investigators are looking at more than one person in connection with the unsuccessful bombing.

Let's cross over to Deborah Feyerick who's following this angle of the story for us in Connecticut, trying to trace down the man that caught -- that purchased the car and possibly also the man that is currently now in custody.

Deborah, what more do you have for us?

DEBORAH FEYERICK, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Don, we can tell that you this is the neighborhood. We're in the neighborhood where authorities believe he lived. And what's interesting is all the various locations that are linked to the car that was recovered in Times Square are really within a 10 to 15 mile radius from one another.

For example, the parking lot where the car was purchased. The transaction was made between the buyer and teller. Again, this happening on Craigslist. They met in a parking lot, the buyer gave the -- the seller gave the buyer the keys to the car and off that person drove.

Then where the license plate came from, that was at a scrap yard just a short distance away. The scrap yard really, not even secure, very easy for somebody to just get in there and take whatever they needed. That's where authorities believe the license plate on the car came from.

So all of these little pieces that were late to the car in Times Square are really about an hour and a half outside in Connecticut. And that's where authorities are focusing their investigation.

They believe that that's where the man lived and that this is the area that he was most familiar with which may be why he arranged to buy the car in this area and why he also got the license plate from a nearby scrap yard.

Again, that is the man who was arrested at JFK airport around midnight today or midnight New York time -- Connecticut time, I should say. He was arrested as he was trying to leave the United States, destination at this point unclear as we track that down -- Don.

RIDDELL: Deborah, where are you at the moment?

FEYERICK: We are in a residential neighborhood. There are a couple of leads as to where this gentleman may have lived. And so we're sort of tracking those down right now.

The Justice Department is going have a press conference in just a little while. And again, while there is some indication as to what the gentleman's name, we're not going to release that just yet until there is absolute confirmation and that confirmation we expect to come from the Justice Department.

So while the name is floating out there, we're just going to err on the side of caution.

RIDDELL: Sure, understand that. Absolutely, Deborah. Have you been able to made contact with the person that sold the car and what part have they played in the investigation?

FEYERICK: Well, that's what's very interesting. We were speaking to some law enforcement sources earlier this afternoon. And that when we discovered that the car was bought on Craigslist. Apparently the seller got in touched with the buyer. The buyer getting in touch with the seller in order to arrange the deal.

It was an $1800 cash deal. That means there was no record of the transaction. It's a very anonymous way really to purchase a vehicle because all you have to do is show up with the money and then you get the registration and the car keys and off you drive.

So that happened in a parking lot of a grocery store in this area. Authorities were looking at various e-mails. They were also looking at telephone records, communications between the two individuals.

Again, the person who wanted to buy that Nissan Pathfinder that was used to carry the bomb into Times Square and the buyer, the person who was ready to get rid of that car. So that was a connection that they were tracking down.

And it appears that the man that they arrested trying to leave the country tonight at JFK airport, he is the one who purchased the car.

It's not clear, Don, when he bought that ticket or where he was going to. Again, all that might become clear in just a short moment.

RIDDELL: OK, Deborah. And also, I understand there was an interesting situation regarding the license plates on this car. Am I correct in thinking that they were not the license plates that came with the car when it was bought?

FEYERICK: Well, that's exactly right. They did not match. And that was one of the big clues. One of the things that the investigators did have is everything that was in that car and that included the license plate.

The license plate did not match the vehicle identification number. So that's was sort of a starting point. Also, believe it or not, there was a little sticker on the back of the car that identified it as having come from the Connecticut area.

Again, the two states border one another. So an hour and a half outside New York City. And so authorities were knocking on the door of the dealer saying, hey, hey, we think that the car at least originated from your dealership and that dealer was able to at least find the purchaser.

So again really what authorities have been doing is they've been working backwards to get to the point that they are now which is the arrest of that suspect.

RIDDELL: OK, Deborah, thanks very much.

That's Deborah Feyerick in Connecticut, the U.S. state where this Nissan Pathfinder was bought and sold on Craigslist for a cash sum of just $1800. This exchange was made outside of a grocery store in a parking lot.

There were no records and no paperwork exchanged. But the investigating team were able to track the sale of the car back to there and that is where a significant part of the investigation currently remains.

Of course, within the last hour and a half, though, we have had an arrest made at JFK International Airport. A suspect, a man we believe that was the man that bought that car was attempting to flee the country or at least to travel overseas. And that was where he was picked up just an hour and a half ago.

Within the next few minutes, we are expecting a press conference from the Department of Justice in Washington, D.C. The Attorney General Eric Holder will be leading that press conference and we will bring that to you live when we have it.

Let's return to Drew Griffin in New York.

Drew, recap the situation for us if you will.

GRIFFIN: Well, I mean, the latest news, as you said, is an arrest has been made. This person apparently trying to flee and perhaps flee the country. Arrested at JFK airport sometime this evening around midnight.

We do believe the police were wise to this guy. We just don't know how long they have been surveilling him, trying to determine if there were any other potential suspects or people he was working with.

We heard from Tom Fuentes that they most likely had been monitoring and tracking his communication to try to determine just that.

But keep in mind just how serious this event was and catastrophic it could have been, Don, and how things have just come together so quickly along with some great police work that may have led to this capture of this person within just a few days.

I mean at 6:30 on Saturday night, there was a vehicle in Times Square set to blow up. It didn't. And that began to unravel as the first clues came in with the license plate, with the vehicle, with VIN numbers, with tracing down where this was purchased.

All of that was going on while police were trying to make sure that there wasn't going to be a second attempt or a third attempt or this was a ruse for some other larger event going on.

But all of that has now culminated now in this person's arrest, a person we believe to be 30 years old, a naturalized citizen who was living in the tri-state area and apparently was somehow involved in this terrorist -- potential terrorist attack.

RIDDELL: Tom -- sorry, Drew, Times Square is very busy even just on a normal weekday. Describe for us what it was like on this Saturday evening at 6:30 p.m.? What kind of people were there? And how bad, realistically, could this have been?

GRIFFIN: Well, if you've ever been in Time Square -- in fact, I just walked through Times Square on my way here tonight. I don't even know what day it is. I think it's Tuesday, but 11:00 at night, it is packed. And it is mostly packed with tourists from all over the world.

There's a joke in this town that it's the only place you will not find New Yorkers is in Times Square because it's so mobbed with tourists. At all hours of the night. And we're talking about families, people with young kids, men and women out on dates, busloads of people coming and going to the various Broadway shows.

6:30, Saturday, particularly packed because you have the additional weekend crowd that, as people are heading to a short dinner before they take in a Broadway show or perhaps wrapping up their day buying souvenirs -- I mean, it is packed with pedestrians.

And if you've seen some of those surveillance cameras that police released, snapshots of that vehicle going through Times Square, you see these pictures where people are just literally mobbed around this car unbeknownst so them. This car that's carrying the gasoline cans, that's carrying the propane cans and these firecrackers all set to go off. They're waiting for that car to get out of the way so they can all cross the street.

So, the potential was there. Whether or not this was indeed an amateur bomb that really would or would not do a lot of damage, thank goodness we weren't able to find that out. We've come to learn now that the bomb was so poorly put together that even if it did explode as it was designed to, that it may have created more of a fireball than anything else. But certainly, there would have been people hurt in this.

DON RIDDELL, CNN ANCHOR: You're absolutely right. Times Square is packed even at the quietest of times.

I just want to recap for our viewers the state of play. As you see on the bottom right hand corner of your screen, we are expecting a press conference very shortly. That press conference will be called by the Attorney General Eric Holder from the Department of Justice in Washington. That press conference has been called for pretty much now 1:30 local time in Washington, D.C.

Covering this story for us, we have Drew Griffin who we've just been hearing from in New York. Jeanne Meserve has the latest for us from our Washington, D.C., bureau.

We've got Deborah Feyerick who is in Connecticut, where a significant part of the investigation currently is being conducted. That is where this car was bought for $1,800.

We've also got Tom Fuentes from the FBI on the line, too.

But this press conference is about to start. Let's listen in.

ERIC HOLDER, U.S. ATTORNEY GENERAL: -- connection with the attempted car bombing in New York on Saturday. Mr. Shahzad, an American citizen, was taken into custody at JFK airport in New York as he attempted to board a flight to Dubai.

Since the plot was first uncovered on Saturday night, the FBI, prosecutors, intelligence lawyers in the National Security Division of the Justice Department which Mr. Kris heads, the United States Attorneys Offices in Manhattan and Connecticut, along with the New York Police Department, have worked night and day to find out who was responsible for what would have been a deadly attack had it been successful.

Over the course of the day today, we have gathered significant additional evidence that led to tonight's arrests, which was made by agents from the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection. This investigation is on going, as are our attempts to gather useful intelligence and we continue to pursue a number of leads. But it's clear that the intent behind this terrorist act was to kill Americans.

FBI agents are working with their state and local counterparts in New York, Connecticut, and other jurisdictions to gather evidence and intelligence related to this case. We're also coordinating with other members of the president's national security team to ensure that we use every available resource that the United States has to bring anyone responsible to justice.

We continue to gather leads in this investigation and it's important that the American people remain vigilant. The vehicle in Times Square was first noticed on Saturday by a citizen who reported it to authorities. And as always, any American who notices suspicious activity should report it to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

Now, as I've said, this investigation is ongoing, it is multifaceted, and it is aggressive. As we move forward, we will focus on not just holding those responsible for it accountable, but also on obtaining any intelligence about terrorist organizations overseas.

And because of the fast-moving nature of this investigation, I am not able to make any further information public at this time. But the American people should know that we are deploying every resource available and we will not rest until we have brought everyone responsible to justice.

RIDDELL: That was the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder conducting a very brief press conference. But he did give us the information that we all had been hoping for for the last hour and a half. And that is that a 30-year-old U.S. citizen from Pakistan, Faisal Shahzad, was arrested at JFK International Airport as he was attempting to board a flight from New York to Dubai.

The attorney general said that the aim of this car bomb was to conduct a deadly attack in Times Square. He said there was no doubt that the aim of this operation was to kill Americans. He detailed that they have significant evidence in this case and also said that investigation was ongoing.

The bulk of the work today was really conducted by the Homeland Security Customs and Border Protection unit and that culminated in the arrest of Faisal Shahzad just an hour and a half ago.

We have reporters and correspondents covering this story from many angles for you.

Let's return to Drew Griffin, if we can. I believe Drew Griffin is standing by in New York for us.

Drew, given what Mr. Holder has just said, what are your thoughts?

GRIFFIN: Eric Holder didn't give us much at all. That's my thought, which makes me believe that this arrest may have been rushed, that they did not probably want to arrest this person when they made the arrest and that as Eric Holder said, this investigation is ongoing. There's still gathering leads.

And I think the fact that he didn't lay out in detail exactly what they have or what they believe the motivation was here, what other connections they have, means that this is, indeed, Don, still very, very actively going on here and it doesn't answer any of our questions at this point.

And the most striking one is: who else is out there, if anybody, who's involved with this guy?

RIDDELL: You're right. All he really gave us was the name which many of us already knew. But, of course, we weren't able to report until Mr. Holder actually gave us that name. But it was a brief press conference lasting barely 90 seconds. And, of course, there were no questions either.

Let's bring in our correspondent Reza Sayah now who's been following this story for us from Islamabad in Pakistan. Of course, the man arrested is a 30-year-old U.S. citizen from Pakistan.

Reza, what details do you have from your end?

REZA SAYAH, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, this is news -- although very little information. This is information neither the Pakistani government nor the Pakistani people wanted to hear, another apparent terrorist plot linked to Pakistan, this individual of Pakistani- American descent. I spoke to a Pakistani government official and I think he's doing what the rest of the Pakistani government is doing, waiting to see how this plays out, waiting for more information. But this is what he told me: this man is no longer Pakistani. He's an American and if he's guilty, they should punish him. He added: it doesn't matter where these people are from. They're all terrorists and they should be punished.

This is, obviously, a Pakistani government official that's trying to downplay the link with Pakistan at this time, trying to distance Pakistan from this investigation.

But the fact remains, over the years, especially after 9/11, Pakistan has become a sanctuary, safe haven for a variety of militant groups, extremist groups. Of course, at this point, it's absolutely no indication that this man, Faisal Shahzad, is linked to one of these militants groups.

But in the past, especially in recent years, there's been a lot of terror plots that have been linked back to Pakistan. Go back to last year, Najibullah Zazi, the man who was arrested in connection with the plot to attack the New York subway system. Investigators said he was from Afghanistan but he married a Pakistani woman, who has spent a lot of time here in Pakistan, where, according to the investigators, the plot was devised.

David Headley, the Pakistani-American who, according to investigators, was arrested in connection with the Mumbai attacks. The 2005 bombing in London, three of those individuals, British Pakistanis.

So, you look at these types of terrorist attacks and terrorist plots. And over the past years, they have links to Pakistan.

The natural inclination is to question whether this man indeed is a link to one of these militant groups who are here in Pakistan. But that's too early to say right now -- Don.

RIDDELL: Reza, there were a number of claims made earlier in the week regarding this attempted bombing. Any of them from Pakistan?

SAYAH: Well, there were two videos that were posted online. One of them is purportedly the voice of Qari Hussein. This is a Pakistan- Taliban commander taking responsibility for this attempted attack. But there's absolutely no indication that that was indeed the voice of Qari Hussein. And even if it was, there is no evidence to say they -- the Pakistani Taliban, it was linked to this attempted attack.

When you talk to analysts and you need to look the past attacks of the Pakistani Taliban, they haven't had to reach beyond this region.

And then on Sunday, you suddenly had a videotape surfacing of Hakimullah Mehsud, the current leader of the Pakistan Taliban earlier believed to have been killed by a U.S. drone strike, last week. Intelligence officials here in Pakistan confirmed that he survived that attack. In that videotape, there was no reference to this attempted bombing in New York. What Hakimullah has said that there will be attacks in the coming weeks -- in the coming weeks in U.S. cities. According to Hakimullah Mehsud in that video, that video was shot in early April.

So, you have the Pakistani Taliban making these claims in the past. They have made claims in an attempt to inflate their stature. But, again, no evidence that the Pakistani Taliban is linked to this attempted bombing in New York, Don.

RIDDELL: Reza, we are working with extremely limited information here. The attorney general gave us few details. He, of course, told us the name of the man they had in custody -- Faisal Shahzad, a 30- year-old citizen from Pakistan. He also told us that this man was attempting to take a flight from New York to Dubai.

Might that be significant in any way?

SAYAH: Well, it could. It could. Again, I hesitate to say this -- but it could mean that he is headed on his way to Pakistan. There are no direct flights from New York to Pakistan. If I recall, most of the flights go from New York to Dubai and then you take a connecting flight -- most of them, take a connecting flight to Karachi, Peshawar, Lahore, and Islamabad.

Another link to Pakistan is 9/11. One of the members of Hamburg cell, this is the cell that was involved in plotting the 9/11 attacks -- last year, evidence surfaced in the tribal region that one of the members of the Hamburg cell shortly before the 9/11 attacks took a flight to Pakistan via Dubai.

It's much too early to say where this man was going. Obviously, investigators could have that, that information. But that's a common route from people coming from the U.S. heading to Pakistan, connecting in Dubai or Abu Dhabi, Don.

RIDDELL: At this point, Reza, what kind of dialogue would you expect to be taking place between the U.S. government and Pakistani government, if any?

SAYAH: Well, he is Pakistani-American. I would expect the U.S. investigators to contact Pakistani government officials, Pakistani intelligence agencies here immediately. It hasn't been the best of relationships over the years between U.S. intelligence and Pakistani intelligence.

Over the past year, that relationship has improved. You hear from senior officials on both sides that are cooperating more with one another in investigation terrorist attack, in putting more pressure on these militant groups.

But without question, now that we know that this individual is Pakistani-American, now that we know that he was headed to this region, you can expect a call from U.S. investigators to Pakistani government officials, Pakistani intelligence officials, Don.

RIDDELL: OK. We'll leave it there for the moment. That's Reza Sayah bringing us his insight from Islamabad in Pakistan.

I was just a few moments ago that we got a few more details from the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. Let's listen in again to what he had to say.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

HOLDER: Earlier this evening, Faisal Shahzad was arrested in connection with the attempted car bombing in New York on Saturday. Mr. Shahzad, an American citizen, was taken into custody at JFK airport in New York as he attempted to board a flight to Dubai.

Since the plot was first uncovered on Saturday night, the FBI, prosecutors, intelligence lawyers in the National Security Division of the Justice Department which Mr. Kris heads, the United States Attorneys Offices in Manhattan and Connecticut, along with the New York Police Department, have worked night and day to find out who was responsible for what would have been a deadly attack had it been successful.

Over the course of the day today, we have gathered significant additional evidence that led to tonight's arrests, which was made by agents from the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection. This investigation is on going, as are our attempts to gather useful intelligence and we continue to pursue a number of leads. But it's clear that the intent behind this terrorist act was to kill Americans.

FBI agents are working with their state and local counterparts in New York, Connecticut, and other jurisdictions to gather evidence and intelligence related to this case. We're also coordinating with other members of the president's national security team to ensure that we use every available resource that the United States has to bring anyone responsible to justice.

We continue to gather leads in this investigation and it's important that the American people remain vigilant. The vehicle in Times Square was first noticed on Saturday by a citizen who reported it to authorities. And as always, any American who notices suspicious activity should report it to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

Now, as I've said, this investigation is ongoing, it is multifaceted, and it is aggressive. As we move forward, we will focus on not just holding those responsible for it accountable, but also on obtaining any intelligence about terrorist organizations overseas.

And because of the fast-moving nature of this investigation, I am not able to make any further information public at this time. But the American people should know that we are deploying every resource available and we will not rest until we have brought everyone responsible to justice.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

RIDDELL: The words there of the U.S. attorney general, Mr. Eric Holder. We have correspondents on this story for New York, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C. And we're also joined on the line by Tom Fuentes, former FBI assistant director.

Tom, you're very well-versed in what to say and what not to say in situations like this. Reading between the lines, what else did you get out of Mr. Holder's brief press conference?

TOM FUENTES, TERRORISM ANALYST (via telephone): Well, Don, you don't have to read between the lines. He doesn't say we got our man, have a nice day. He says, everyone involved will be brought to justice. All of those involved will be brought to justice.

So, he's clearly speaking in plurals as if there are more than one subjects involved in this case. So, I think, to me, that was the important factor. He didn't say the case is solved and now, we're just going to gather the evidence for the prosecution. He's saying that everyone involved will be brought to justice.

RIDDELL: This remains an extremely situation. Something else that he very pointedly said, the point of this attack was to kill Americans. You well know that in Times Square is a very international part of the world. Many, many tourists from all over the world head to there.

Why do you think he was so pointed in saying it was to kill Americans?

FUENTES: Well, I think the expectation is out of hundreds of people on that sidewalk, there will be at least a few Americans among them. But to make it clear to American people that the threat is against everyone. And this is obviously against Americans or to be able to commit an attack on American soil.

So, you know, it's a statement to make to inform the American people that we're trying to stop them. The authorities are trying to stop them from being harmed. But, yes, as Drew Griffin pointed out early, it's a very diverse population that (INAUDIBLE) of any given time.

RIDDELL: Tom, take us behind the scenes to the investigation. What you would expect to be happening at this point? I mean, Eastern Time, it's approaching 2:00 in the morning. What kind of personnel would you expect to be working on this case and what would they actually be doing?

FUENTES: Well, you have an entire New York City Joint Terrorism Task Force, FBI agents, the New York City Police Department, state police, all the other authorities that are on the various JTTF. The attorney general mentioned that leads are going to a number of other federal agents, you know, throughout the country. So, there will literally be thousands of agents and police officers following leads in this investigation domestically.

Additionally, the FBI will be following leads through the FBI office in Islamabad in Pakistan to request information about this individual, where is he from, family members, any affiliation to come up, and any other prior investigations in terms of being involved with one of the terrorist groups in Pakistan. And because -- in this situation, it's going to be a criminal prosecution, terrorist prosecution, probably in New York City, the work will be going through the FBI to Pakistani national police, Director General Khosa (ph) and his staff in Pakistan so that the evidence can be obtained and then used in presenting the prosecution here in the United States.

RIDDELL: They've had Faisal Shahzad, this 30-year-old U.S. citizen from Pakistan in custody for about an hour and 50 minutes now. How you would expect that interrogation, shall we say, to be going? What kind of message will they be using? And how hard will they be leaning on him to give up information?

FUENTES: Well, they will have to process him in terms of taking his picture and fingerprints and probably have a court authorization now to obtain DNA samples from him, which can be compared to materials obtained by the crime scene investigators last Saturday from the explosive device that's from the vehicle.

So, that part of the investigation will continue and they'll involve him directly. But they will be reading him his Miranda rights. And he will have the right to remain silent. And he may do so. We don't know that and we'll find that out down the road here.

But, again, depending on the forensic evidence, there may be some very compelling evidence linking him to the actual explosive device.

RIDDELL: We'll leave it there, Tom. But thank you for your continuing insight and analysis on this developing story.

Here's what we know right now. According to law enforcement sources, an arrest was made at JFK airport around midnight local time. That's about an hour and three quarters ago.

We now know that the suspect, Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old U.S. citizen from Pakistan, was trying to leave the country. The attorney general has told us that he was attempting to board a flight from JFK International to Dubai -- where the man, we understand, recently purchased the SUV that was found in Times Square over the weekend. That had been fitted and rigged with a crude propane and gasoline car bomb.

He was named as a potential suspect just hours before his arrest. We know that he had bought the vehicle in a cash transaction with no paperwork, no records and no papers, that transaction taking place for just $1,800 in cash. The car was purchased from a seller on Craigslist three weeks ago.

Now, sources say the suspect is a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan. And investigators are looking at more than one person in connection with what, thankfully, was an unsuccessful bombing.

Let's join our Reza Sayah now who has been following this story for us from Islamabad in Pakistan -- Reza.

SAYAH: Don, this arrest is the latest in a long line of terror plots and terror attacks that have been linked back to Pakistan.

And I think if you go back over the past few years, you know why there is a tendency by a lot of people to link individuals arrested in two militant groups in Pakistan. For example, late last year, the D.C. five, the five young Americans of Middle Eastern descent who according to investigators arrived here from the Virginia area, arrived here in Pakistan to wage jihad against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. Those individuals are on trial here in Pakistan.

Again, late last year, Najibullah Zazi, according to investigators, arrested in connection with a plot to attack the New York subway system. Najibullah Zazi, an Afghan citizen. But according to investigators, he spent a lot of time here in Pakistan. And again, according to investigators, that's where the plot was devised.

Also, David Headley, Pakistani-American, arrested in connection with the Mumbai attacks and the 2005 London bombing, three of those four individuals British Pakistani.

That's why the natural tendency is to listen to what Eric Holder said, hear that this man is Faisal Shahzad and question if, indeed, this man is linked to one of the many, many, many militant groups who are using Pakistan as a sanctuary. It's way too early to say if, indeed, this man is connected to extremist groups. But the fact is, over the years, Pakistan has been a safe haven for al Qaeda, for militant groups, for the Pakistani Taliban, the Afghan Taliban.

It is Washington's position right now -- the Obama administration has said this over and over again. The militant groups right now in Pakistan's tribal region along the Afghan border are plotting to attack U.S. targets on U.S. soil.

Again, it's too early to say if this man was linked to one of those plots. But, again, look for much of the focus of this investigation which started in Times Square in New York City to shift to Pakistan with the identity now of this man a Pakistani-American -- Don.

RIDDELL: Reza, thanks very much.

We just got some new information while you've been speaking, Reza. This is coming to us from the federal law official. Mr. Faisal Shahzad, who, as we've been saying, is a 30-year-old U.S. citizen from Pakistan, was naturalized actually quite recently as a U.S. citizen -- just pretty much a year ago, April the 17th, 2009.

Now, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement had his photo because of his changed in status. And when his name came up in this investigation, the investigators were able to take the photo to the man who sold in the car up in Connecticut. And he identified the man in the photo as the man who bought the car.

Now, we understand from the attorney general that this man was attempting to board a flight about two hours ago from JFK International Airport in New York to Dubai. Now, Faisal Shahzad had been to Dubai before. He left for Dubai in June of last year, June '09, and he returned from Dubai this year on February the 3rd.

Reza was actually saying to us earlier that Dubai may not have been his final destination. Dubai is a very well known transit hub in the Middle East. And actually, Reza was saying that he's not entirely sure that you're able to fly directly from the United States or New York in particular to Pakistan. Now, this is, of course, only speculation that Pakistan may have been his final destination. But it would be a well-traveled route from someone to fly from New York to Pakistan via Dubai.

Let's bring in Don Lemon now who is following our coverage from our New York bureau and to join us now with more -- Don.

DON LEMON, CNN ANCHOR: Actually, we have been covering this story since it started late Saturday night right after our newscast there in the Atlanta area. And it's very interesting when you look at the clues and you look at the situation that has unfolded here just with over -- just within the last couple of days.

And talking to investigators as recently as a couple hours ago, they were sure even as I reported to night at 8:00 p.m. Eastern, they were sure many of them that investigators knew who this man was just from the videotape, just from video cameras at that are stationed in that area.

And as our Drew Griffin has been telling you throughout the evening, he walked here on his way to the Time Warner Center, to the CNN Center here, as he walked through Times Square, you could see the presence of officers. You can see the number of cameras that are there.

And I want to talk to Drew.

Drew, if I can bring you in here. Talking to investigators, they said that initially that this was a device that was sort of crude device.

But this guy certainly left enough clues for investigators to be able to figure out who he, Drew, using Craigslist. They were able to trace him with an I.P. address, having become a naturalized citizen recently; having his picture there. They were able to take his picture to the person he bought the Pathfinder from on Craigslist, doing it in Times Square where there are a number of cameras, putting fertilizer in the car that was not an explosive grade fertilizer.

He left behind a lot of clues and he didn't carry this off very well, Drew.

GRIFFIN: You know, we can't get in his head, Don. But it -- I would assume that this man thought most of the evidence was going to be burned up. He didn't realize, perhaps, that the VIN number, that Vehicle Identification Numbers are on multiple parts of a car. So, even if do you burn up a car, that they're going to be able to find that VIN number.

He thought, perhaps, by stealing the license plate, that would throw off police initially to him because, of course, they'd have surveillance cameras of the license plate. But the license plate would not match the vehicle.

And I really think that he probably thought his timers would work. You know, the actual event, Don, if you look at it, was quite rushed. He pulls over into Times Square. The car is still running as he leaves the car. The flashers are still on.

I talked to one bomb expert who said, this was obviously not supposed to go like this. What is the point of having these clocks and these timers if it's not to park the car, get out of the car, walk away -- and as this one bomb expert told me, go home and watch this all take place on CNN.

So, in many ways when we say these amateurish, it was because it appears he didn't know what he was doing. In many other ways, he was very dangerous because he was able to bring this highly explosive material right into the center of New York, right next to all these people from all over the world, and actually did think he lit it.

LEMON: And, Drew, just as the attorney general said they were going to look for clues, they said that this was multifaceted and that was this aggressive. That they were going to use every two available to bring this person to justice, and if there were other people to justice as well.

There was some speculation by some investigators and some sources that, again, that they knew who this person was and they were trying to see if this person was working with a group or maybe a cell and giving him some time to either do his thing and get in contact with other people before this arrest was made.