Ailsa Chang is an award-winning journalist who covers criminal justice, terrorism and the courts for WNYC. She found her way into public radio after practicing law for five years, and can definitely say that walking the streets of New York City with a microphone is a lot more fun than being holed up in the office writing letters to opposing counsel.
Failed Times Square Bomber Sentenced to Life In Prison
Tuesday, October 05, 2010
The Pakistani immigrant who tried to kill Americans by driving a homemade car bomb into Times Square in May and leaving it to explode has been sentenced to life in prison. The judge gave Faisal Shahzad a mandatory life prison term at his sentencing Tuesday in Manhattan federal court.
When he heard his sentence, Shahzad exclaimed, "Allah hoo akbar," which means "God is great," in Arabic.
Shahzad's hair looked a little longer than his last court appearance in June, and his beard appeared a little thicker, but he struck the same defiant tone throughout the sentencing proceedings that he used in June.
"We are only Muslims," he said, "but if you call us terrorists, we are proud terrorists and we will keep on terrorizing you."
Shazad pleaded guilty in June to all 10 counts against him, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, after driving an SUV laden with fertilizer, fireworks, propane tanks and gasoline into Times Square on May 1. The vehicle failed to explode.
Prosecutors say Shahzad, 31, told federal authorities after his arrest that he had scoped out areas of Times Square through live Internet video feeds in order to choose the target area with the largest possible casualties.
"How can I be judged by a court that does not understand the suffering of my people?" Shahzad asked the judge as he began delivering his statement.
"U.S. and NATO forces, who have occupied Muslim land, I say to you," he said, "we don't accept your democracy or your freedom because we have Sharia law and freedom." He later added that "the defeat of the U.S. is imminent."
Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum interrupted Shahzad at one point during his statement and asked him if he had sworn allegiance to the United States when he became a citizen last year.
"I did swear, but I did not mean it," Shahzad said.
"So you took a false oath," the judge told him.
Judge Cedarbaum said she was giving Shahzad the harshest sentence possible because of Shahzad's total lack of remorse, his desire to repeat the crime and the need to deter others who would follow in his footsteps. She told him to spend his time in prison thinking carefully about whether the Koran wants him to kill people.
Shahzad responded that the Koran "gives us the right to defend. And that's all I'm doing."
He ended his remarks, saying that he was "happy with the deal God has given" him.