Defiant Times Square Bomber Sentenced to Life in Prison

Update: Here's the transcript of today's sentencing of Faisal Shahzad. On his Miranda rights:
We Muslims don't abide by human-made laws, because they are always corrupt. And I had a firsthand experience when on the second day of my arrest I asked for the Miranda. And the FBI denied it to me for two weeks, effecting harm to my kids and family, and I was forced to sign those Mirandas.


Faisal Shahzad, who unsuccessfully attempted to set off a bomb in Times Square, was sentenced to six life terms today in federal court.

A defiant Shahzad said "Allahu Akbar" -- Arabic for "God is great" -- after the judge sentenced him to the mandatory life imprisonment.


"Brace yourself because the war with the Muslims has only just begun," he told the judge before he was sentenced during the 30-minute hearing. "The defeat of the US is imminent and will happen in the near future."

Two of the counts he pleaded guilty, counts three and six, required statutory life sentences.

From the Government's sentencing memo:

[B]ased on his guilty plea to Count Three, he faces a mandatory term of five years’ imprisonment, which must run consecutively to any other term of imprisonment. In addition, based on his guilty plea to Counts Four and Five, he faces a maximum term of life imprisonment on each count, and the sentence for each of these two counts must run consecutively to each other and to any other term of imprisonment. Finally, based on his guilty plea to Count Six, he faces a mandatory minimum term of life imprisonment, which must run consecutively to any other term of imprisonment.

Shahzad pleaded guilty to all ten counts against him. Counts three through six were:

  • (3) possession and use of a firearm during and in relation to a conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 924©;
  • (4) attempted act of terrorism transcending national boundaries, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2332b;
  • (5) conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2332b;
  • (6) attempted use of a destructive device during and in relation to a conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism transcending national boundaries,

Clearly our criminal laws involving terrorism are harsh enough. The next time some Congressperson decides to advocate stronger terrorism laws, Shahzad will be a great example of why they aren't necessary.

My guess is Shahzad will be headed to Supermax in Florence, CO, where Zacarias Moussaoui and Richard Reid, to name a few, are also imprisoned.

As I wrote here, it seems that life in prison has now become a badge of honor.

Maybe the brain-washing that occurs during training has expanded to where recruits are taught that a life sentence is a badge of honor and as worthy to the cause as a suicide, so long as they don't give up information about others. If so, it seems the prospect of life in prison is not going to be a deterrent to future plotters, and offering a lesser sentence for cooperation will fall on deaf ears. If they are not only willing to die for the cause, but to serve life in prison, believing it to be an honor so long as they take the rap alone, the U.S. may have some serious problems.

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  • Display: Sort:
    Unsurprising. (5.00 / 0) (#1)
    by scribe on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 11:52:16 AM EST
    This case presents the insurmountable problem all law enforcement ultimately runs up against.  Once the [putative] lawbreaker recognizes and accepts his own death (as inevitable) it is only a matter of time until some of them don't care any more and will do whatever they please regardless of how stringent, brutal and draconian law enforcement might be.  Fear (in this case of law enforcement and prison) only works so long as the people it's directed at remain fearful, and once someone accepts death as inevitable, fear no longer has any hold.

    This is exemplified by a short scene in The Shootist, John Wayne's final film.  The Marshal hears a legendary gunfighter is in town and comes over to see why.  They have a past, so he expects trouble.  Unknown to the Marshal, the gunfighter is dying of cancer:

    Carson City Marshal Walter Thibido [Harry Morgan]: You wouldn't gun down a police officer.
    John Bernard Books [John Wayne]: What'd stop me? Fear of dying?

    Of course, when John Wayne went that way, he was "dignified" and "heroic".

    This problem has bedeviled governments throughout history - they maintain order and their supremacy through, ultimately, fear.  The US never solved the problem of suicide pilots (or human torpedoes, for that matter) during the final days of WWII against Japan.  Death was "as light as a feather" for them, and they went to their deaths gladly.  Same for martyrs to all sorts of causes.  No one has ever stopped an anarchist or revolutionary or thug from carrying out a suicide mission killing or terror act.  

    No.  To stop terror, ever-more draconian measures are guaranteed to fail.  All these more draconian measures will do is create more martyrs.

    Of course, if you're in the business of profiting from a continuing war on terror, that's not a bug.  That's a feature.

    Terrorist in a Manhattan Courtroom!? (5.00 / 2) (#6)
    by Xclusionary Rule 4ever on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 12:54:52 PM EST
    and life goes on as we know it. ZOMG

    Sure (none / 0) (#23)
    by jbindc on Wed Oct 06, 2010 at 12:09:57 PM EST
    This was an easy call.  Crime committed on US soil.  A little harder when no US connection.

    A life sentence (5.00 / 0) (#10)
    by Dadler on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 02:34:13 PM EST
    While these guys may think it a badge of honor in the abstract, I doubt seriously that once imprisoned in a supermax they feel the same swell of pride and accomplishment.

    When you are dealing with acute sociopathy, in any form, reason will always lose.  The inability to distinguish between reality and metaphor is a sure sign. This goes for religion AND politics. Our utter overreaction to 9/11, which will haunt us for the rest of my life, I am sure, was a perfect, if different, example of such.  

    Two life terms, whether consecutive (none / 0) (#11)
    by oculus on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 03:02:10 PM EST
    or concurrent, and then, finally, the 79 virgins?

    Is it any wonder (none / 0) (#2)
    by beefeater on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 11:55:23 AM EST
    that much of the Islamic world hates us? This poor fella is obviously in need of counseling and rehabilitation not a knee jerk, clenched fist reaction.

    That IS Absurd (none / 0) (#4)
    by squeaky on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 12:30:00 PM EST
    To make believe that a criminal represents most of the 1.6 billion people in the world is idiotic, imo.

    American exceptionalism is an odd form of nationalism that gives many americans the notion that we are the center of the worlds attention.


    Tell that to Van Gogh. (none / 0) (#7)
    by observed on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 01:12:54 PM EST
    Geesh (none / 0) (#9)
    by squeaky on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 01:59:08 PM EST
    I guess you have signed up for the bigotry and racist program that the right is pushing. Great to keep the voters pumped for the war effort.

    The problem pre-dates the war, as (none / 0) (#12)
    by observed on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 03:36:30 PM EST
    Mr. Rushdie could tell you.
    By the way, do you know about the Seattle Weekly cartoonist who had to go into hiding (at the FBI's urging) over her "Everyone draw Mohammed" day?

    One of things about the Koran burning stunt/GZM controversy(which, incidentally, I couldn't care less about) was that there were quite a few people who said that the Florida pastor was in the wrong because Muslims would kill people over his stunt, or if the GZM were moved. Excuse me, that is so ash-backwards. If people threaten terrorism over free speech, and Americans urge caving, we are really in trouble.


    FRee Speech (none / 0) (#21)
    by squeaky on Wed Oct 06, 2010 at 12:12:41 AM EST
    I would love to see you try out your free speech trick in a couple of bars I know. White christians, will show you how it works.

    I don't think even they will ... (none / 0) (#22)
    by nyrias on Wed Oct 06, 2010 at 10:43:31 AM EST
    kill you over a cartoon.

    You really think that's why they hate us? (none / 0) (#17)
    by Jerrymcl89 on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 07:59:25 PM EST
    In what Islamic country would they give you counselling for this?

    It (none / 0) (#3)
    by lentinel on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 12:20:33 PM EST
    really sounds screwy to me when I read about someone being sentenced to consecutive life terms. You finish one, only to find that's there's another waiting in the wings.

    The US has a compact with the government.... (none / 0) (#8)
    by magster on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 01:37:41 PM EST
    ... of Purgatory to honor our sentencing decisions.

    The federal laws that appear to require, (none / 0) (#5)
    by Peter G on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 12:38:05 PM EST
    but may not really require, the imposition of consecutive maximum terms, were debated yesterday before the Supreme Court.  In particular, Chief Justice Roberts asked about whether a law should be interpreted, if there is any ambiguity, to require a sentence to run consecutively to a term of life imprisonment.  To some extent, some parts of the sentence imposed on Shahzad may be illegal.

    What I meant to write was not (none / 0) (#14)
    by Peter G on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 04:35:22 PM EST
    "consecutive maximum terms" but rather "mandatory consecutive terms"

    it's clear to me, (none / 0) (#13)
    by cpinva on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 04:22:59 PM EST
    a non-professional, that this guy is pretty much off the rails. not that i am at all suggesting he shouldn't be put in jail, forever, mind you, just that he's very obviously nuts.

    unfortunately, that's probably the case with most fanatics, regardless of stripe. whether one breeds the other, or being mentally disturbed merely makes it easier to turn you into a fanatic, i will leave to the professionals.

    There is no deterrant .. (none / 0) (#15)
    by nyrias on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 05:28:25 PM EST
    to fanatics. The only solution is to find & lock them all up.

    Thus, the goal of putting this guy away is to take him out of circulation, NOT deterring the next nut case.

    Given the small number of plots that have been tried on US soil (shoe bomber, this guy, and what not), taking each one out of circulating decreases terrorism significantly.

    Hardly (none / 0) (#16)
    by Jeralyn on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 06:21:05 PM EST
    You wrote: "taking each one out of circulating decreases terrorism significantly. "

    For everyone Faisal you lock up, ten more will be willing to take his place. America cannot jail itself out of its terror problem. It needs to begin addressing the cause of the hatred.


    I don't think there's a waiting list (none / 0) (#19)
    by Catesby on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 09:25:47 PM EST
    to get in somehow.

    That said, some of our actions can create terrorists that otherwise would go about their lives.

    But I don't think imprisonment is one of those actions.  Nor do I believe there are 10 guys sitting around on their hands waiting for someone to be taken out of circulation so they can get their chance.


    How many plots of ... (none / 0) (#20)
    by nyrias on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 11:43:58 PM EST
    bombing on US soils are there? We can count that with two hands.

    Where is the evidence that 10 will spring up and take his place? Are we flooded with bombings in the US everytime we arrested one of these fanatics? No. Unless you produce some evidence, i am not taken your word that 10 more guys are lining to bomb Time Square.

    Plus, they already hate us. NOT locking this terrorist up is NOT going to change that.


    Pleez. (none / 0) (#24)
    by sarcastic unnamed one on Wed Oct 06, 2010 at 12:47:40 PM EST
    All we have to do is stop doing the stuff the bad guys want us to stop doing, like putting them in jail for trying to blow us up, and they'll just leave us alone...

    My guess is that Shahzad is likely (none / 0) (#18)
    by andgarden on Tue Oct 05, 2010 at 08:28:51 PM EST
    beyond being "addressed." As long as he keeps saying what he says, I can't see any argument against keeping him locked up.