Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Chain of Phone Numbers Led Investigators to Bomb Suspect

Via -

Investigators discovered the name of the suspect in the failed Times Square bombing because of a telephone number he provided when he returned to the United States from Pakistan in February, a law enforcement official said Wednesday.

he phone number he gave three months ago was entered in a Customs and Border Protection agency database and came up Monday when investigators were checking the record of calls made to or from the prepaid cellular telephone used by the purchaser — at that point unidentified — of the vehicle used in the failed bombing, the official said.

Only when they matched the phone number did investigators learn that “that was the guy we were looking for,” said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive investigation.

The phone-record link underscored the combination of investigative skill, increased government integration and sheer luck that helped authorities track down Faisal Shahzad just 53 hours after a vehicle packed with explosives was parked in the heart of Manhattan. Once investigators had Mr. Shahzad’s identity, they were able to put his name on a no-fly list that ultimately led to his being pulled off a plane about to leave the country.

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