NEW YORK: Suspected Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad was ordered held without bail on Tuesday in his first court appearance since his arrest two weeks ago.
Magistrate Judge James Francis remanded Shahzad in custody after his court-appointed defense lawyer, Julia Gatto, opted not to challenge the prosecutors' request that he remain jailed pending trial in Manhattan federal court.
Shahzad, 30, remained expressionless and silent as the judge read the charges. He spoke only once to say a statement about his finances was correct. Shahzad entered the courtroom unshackled, wearing a grey sweatshirt and grey sweat pants with white gym shoes, and was handcuffed before being led to jail.
Shahzad did not enter a plea and the next court date was scheduled for June 1.
The Pakistani-born man, who became a US citizen last year, is accused of parking a crude car bomb in New York's crowded Times Square on May 1. He was arrested aboard a Dubai-bound jetliner two days later. He has been charged with 5 felonies, including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and trying to kill and maim people. He faces life in prison if convicted.
Prosecutors said Shahzad has admitted to the failed Times Square bomb attack and has been cooperating with investigators since his arrest on May 3. Prosecutors said Shahzad, who has a wife and two children in Pakistan, had travelled to a Taliban and al Qaeda stronghold in Pakistan to receive bomb-making training. The Pakistani Taliban, called Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, has claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing.
Prosecutors say Shahzad has waived his right to remain silent and has provided valuable intelligence since his arrest, but a prominent defense lawyer on Tuesday raised questions about the unusually long time between Shahzad's arrest and his first appearance in court.
Asked by Judge Francis if Shahzad had willingly given up his right to be presented in court sooner, Assistant US Attorney Randall Jackson, one of the prosecutors in the case, said "yes."
It remained unclear when Shahzad met with a defense lawyer for the first time. Gatto, the court-appointed lawyer who sat by Shahzad's side at Tuesday's nine-minute hearing, declined to speak with reporters. At the hearing, US Marshals emptied the court room ahead of the proceeding for a security sweep.
Law enforcement officials formed a tight cordon inside the room, where about 20 journalists were allowed in.
Gatto asked the judge that specific instructions be sent to the Bureau of Prisons for Shahzad to receive halal meals.
Shahzad charged with five felonies
Shahzad has been charged with five felonies in the May 1 incident: attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting acts of terrorism transcending national boundaries, using a destructive device in an attempted violent crime, transporting and receiving explosives, and trying to damage and destroy property with fire and explosives. Shahzad lived in the neighboring state of Connecticut and had recently returned to the United States after spending several months in Pakistan. Several people have been arrested in Pakistan in the case and US authorities carried out raids last week in New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Maine, detaining three people.
A US official said White House National Security Adviser James Jones and CIA Director Leon Panetta were in Pakistan to discuss the Times Square case and other matters, noting that the Pakistanis were "doing more" in the way of cooperation. "The Pakistanis have done some good work on the Shahzad case," the official said. "It's important for them to have as fresh a picture as possible of how the United States views the threat from the tribal areas."