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How Did Shahzad Get on the Plane If He Was on No-Fly List?

2:14 PM, May 4, 2010 • By MARY KATHARINE HAM
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An FBI official says Faisal Shahzad was put on a no-fly list hours before his arrest, but he was apprehended on a flight he booked on the way to the airport and which he paid for in cash.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, while refusing to criticize agencies, said the suspect was "clearly on the plane and shouldn't have been." An FBI official said Shahzad was placed on No Fly list hours before his arrest.

 Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano declined to say how Shahzad was able to board the flight if he was on the No Fly list.

The result: a close call at JFK, where Emirates Flight 202 was called back to the gate with Shahzad on it. Ben Smith has the eerie audio:

"I have a message for you to go back to the gate immediately so make the left turn when able," says the controller. "I don't know exactly why but you can call your company for the reason."

"We're trying to figure out what's going on here right now," says someone from the airline. "I'd like to request you to keep the flight plan open right now."

Janet Napolitano declined to answer when asked exactly how he got on the plane.

How'd He Get On The Plane? from Greg Pollowitz on Vimeo.

Meanwhile, Shahzad begins to look less and less "one-off" as Pakistani officials tell TIME:

A Pakistani government source, speaking on condition of anonymity, told TIME on Tuesday that the suspect had had ties with militants while in Pakistan. "He was here at a training camp," the source said.

Update: More on his no-fly status. He was added to the list Monday, hours before apprehension.

Update: Getting reports that CNN has said Shahzad was not actually on the flight when apprehended, but the flight was brought back out of concern for passengers already on board. That'd be heartening news, if true. Odd that Napolitano didn't just say that.

Here's the CNN update:

The suspect in the attempted car bombing of New York's Times Square was already in police custody Monday night when a flight he was scheduled to be on pushed back from the gate, a federal law enforcement source with direct information about the arrest told CNN.

Update: The NYT confirms he got on the plane before being detained, and explains how it happened.

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