NEW YORK – A Pakistani immigrant who tried to set off a car bomb in Times Square was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison by a judge who said she hopes he spends some of his time behind bars thinking "carefully about whether the Quran wants you to kill lots of people."
Faisal Shahzad's thirst for bloodshed showed no signs of waning as he and U.S. District Judge Miriam Goldman Cedarbaum sparred repeatedly over his reasoning for giving up his comfortable life in America to train in Pakistan and carry out a potentially deadly May 1 attack in the heart of Times Square.
Instead of exploding, his massive bomb in the back of an SUV sputtered, attracting the attention of a street vendor, who alerted police. The discovery set off an evacuation of the tourist-laden area and a massive investigation that resulted in his arrest two days later as he sought to flee the country.
"You appear to be someone who was capable of education and I do hope you will spend some of the time in prison thinking carefully about whether the Quran wants you to kill lots of people," Cedarbaum told Shahzad after she announced his mandatory life sentence, which under federal sentencing rules will keep him behind bars until he dies.
Shahzad, 31, responded that the "Quran gives us the right to defend. And that's all I'm doing."
Earlier, Shahzad offered a lecture of his own for Americans, saying he felt no remorse.
"We are only Muslims ... but if you call us terrorists, we are proud terrorists and we will keep on terrorizing you," he said.
At another point, he said: "The defeat of the U.S. is imminent."
Cedarbaum said her sentence was very important "to protect the public from further crimes of this defendant and others who would seek to follow him."
During Shahzad's statement, Cedarbaum cut him off at one point to ask 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," said Shahzad, a former budget analyst from Connecticut who was born in Pakistan.
"So you took a false oath," the judge told him.
Shahzad demonstrated throughout the half-hour proceeding in Manhattan that he had not wavered in the months since he pleaded guilty in June to 10 terrorism and weapons counts, some of which carry mandatory life sentences.
"I want to plead guilty and I'm going to plead guilty a hundred times forward," he said in June.
On Tuesday, he picked up where he left off.
"If I'm given 1,000 lives I will sacrifice them all for the life of Allah," he said at the start of a statement that lasted several minutes and was interrupted several times by the judge who said she wanted to hear what he had to say about his sentencing. "How can I be judged by a court that does not understand the suffering of my people?"
Shahzad, who last year received explosives training in Pakistan to prepare for his bombing attempt, said attacks on Americans will continue until the United States leaves Muslim lands.
"We do not accept your democracy or your freedom because we already have Sharia law and freedom," Shahzad said.
Two deputy U.S. marshals stood behind Shahzad throughout the sentencing.
Shahzad had instructed his attorney not to speak, and smirked as the judge announced her sentence. When a prosecutor tried to speak, the judge told him it wasn't necessary.
Asked by the judge if he had any final words, Shahzad said, "I'm happy with the deal that God has given me."
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