A dramatic videotape of the FBI-staged test blast in June has become a key piece of evidence against Shahzad, who faces a mandatory life prison term at his sentencing Tuesday in Manhattan federal court.Shahzad had received terror training and financial assistance overseas. He claims that the Pakistan Taliban provided him with more than $15,000 and five days of explosives training late last year and early this year, months after he became a U.S. citizen. He had planned the attack using widely available web feeds and had planned the attack to coincide with when the area would be heavily trafficked with tourists.
Technicians studied Shahzad's design before using it to build a working model they say demonstrated his deadly intent.
"Had the bombing played out as Shahzad had so carefully planned, the lives of numerous residents and visitors of the city would have been lost and countless others would have been forever traumatized," prosecutors wrote in court papers.
Shahzad's bomb fizzled before it could do any harm, doomed by faulty wiring and ingredients such as a low-grade fertilizer that couldn't explode.
The Pakistan-born Shahzad hasn't disputed the allegations while under interrogation and taking a guilty plea.
In fact, "he spoke with pride" about the scheme, in which he bragged that he wanted to kill at least 40 people, the government said in a sentencing memo. If he escaped arrest, he added, he hoped to set off another bomb two weeks later in a second, undisclosed location.
"While it is impossible to calculate precisely the impact of Shahzad's bomb had it detonated, the controlled detonation ... demonstrated that those effects would have been devastating to the surrounding area," prosecutors wrote.
Calling himself a Muslim solider, a defiant Shahzad pleaded guilty in June to 10 terrorism and weapons counts, some of which carry mandatory life sentences.
The sentencing comes just a day after a UAV airstrike apparently killed a German terror cell that was in the Pakistani frontier province of Waziristan in the town of Mir Ali. Pakistan continues to be a hub of terrorism, and the latest European travel warnings are related as well. Al Qaeda has mutated its efforts to strike at targets around the world to try and carry out attacks. No high level al Qaeda or Taliban were killed in the latest strike, but the elimination of the German cell could have thwarted a major attack down the road. Western intel agencies are concerned that al Qaeda will attempt to carry out Mumbai-style attacks (using a cadre of terrorists to attack hotels and other soft targets to inflict maximum casualties).
Shahzad has gotten life in prison. He was unrepentant to the last - he said: "Brace yourselves, the war with Muslims has just begun," just before the judge handed down the six life sentences.
Shahzad, like many other Islamic terrorists, ignores that the bulk of victims of their terror campaigns are fellow Muslims, but they chalk it up to acceptable losses in a larger campaign of jihad against the West as they promote their version of fundamentalist Islam.