Shahzad was arrested on May 3 after he had boarded a plane that was leaving that night for Dubai. The naturalized US citizen, who was born in Pakistan, admitted that he left a Nissan Pathfinder loaded with improvised explosives and incendiary devices in Times Square.
On May 1, street vendors spotted the smoking vehicle almost immediately and notified the New York Police Department, which cleared the area. After firefighters doused the flames, the search began for whoever had left the vehicle. It was quickly traced to Shahzad.
“In this case, the speed with which they broke the case because of the terrorist overtones was breathtaking,” says Randy Mastro, former deputy mayor under Rudolph Giuliani and now co-chair of Gibson Dunn & Crutcher’s Litigation & Crisis Management Group in New York. “They actually identified him faster than his arrest because they wanted to track him to figure out if he had any accomplices.”