A spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney in the Southern District of New York said that Shazad will appear in federal court in Manhattan on Pearl Street today.
The Justice Department had notified a network pool that an announcement
would be made at 1:00 a.m. ET and asked networks not to report the fact
of the announcement, whatever it would be. An official later told me
that the lives of FBI agents would be placed in danger if news leaked
that an arrest was imminent.
At about 12:30 a.m. ET, officials began to
confirm that an arrest had been made between 11:30 p.m. and midnight. CNN reported that it was asked by the government not to identify Shahzad by name until Holder made his announcement, but by that point, the New York Times, the Associated Press and several other news organizations had named Shahzad.
How was Shahzad tracked? As noted in
The Night Beat, investigators traced a vehicle identification number
back to the Pathfinder's original owner in Connecticut. The person recalled selling the vehicle to another man over Craigslist. The
transaction was made in the parking lot of a shopping center a week ago. The man's e-mail was traced back to Shahzad.
There is also
independent evidence linking Shahzad to the car itself, although the
nature of that evidence was not disclosed. Also not apparent to
investigators is whether Shahzad had contact with anyone connected to
Shahzad will be brought before a judge this morning. Charges are unclear
at this point. It is unknown whether investigators believe that Shahzad acted in concert with accomplices. Officials believe that the sloppy tradecraft practiced by the plotters suggested that the terrorist attempt was hastily conceived. Still, given the shaved-off dashboard vehicle identification number and the stolen license plate, there was obviously some thought given to the idea.
The Justice Department will face intense pressure to announce how and when and where they plan to try Shahzad. It may depend on the nature of the plot and whether it was hatched overseas, or whether it was endogenous. The department has plenty of time to decide what to do, and it's not likely they will announce their plans before they know for sure where and how they plan to try Shahzad.
Unknown at this point: what Shahzad did for a living ... where he obtained the money to buy the car ... who helped him (if anyone) ... where he purchased the explosives ... the motive.
The moment-by-moment case file opened by the Joint Terrorism Task Force investigation was fairly closely held, and only a few officials were made privy to the full details in fear that they would prematurely leak -- which they ultimately did, although, apparently, without consequence.