Posts Tagged ‘Manhattan

06
Aug
10

Accused NYC subway plotter pleads not guilty

NEWS
Accused NYC subway plotter pleads not guilty
New Charges Leveled Against NYC Man With Ties To Zazi, Others in Alleged Terror Plot.

Friday, August 6, 2010

••• One of the men accused in an alleged al-Qaeda bomb plot against New York’s subway system has pleaded not guilty.

Adis Medunjanin, 26, entered the plea on Friday at an arraignment in federal court in Brooklyn, New York, the U.S. attorney’s office said.
The main suspect in the alleged 2009 conspiracy, Najibullah Zazi, pleaded guilty earlier this year.

Last month U.S. prosecutors said al-Qaeda leaders helped set up the plot as part of a Pakistan-based campaign against U.S. and British cities.

According to new charges, Zazi, Medunjanin and Zarein Ahmedzay, who has also pleaded guilty, were recruited by al-Qaeda member Adnan El Shukrijumah.

He was described as being one of three leaders of al-Qaeda’s external operations program.
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01
Aug
10

It’s Official: Chelsea Clinton Ties the Knot!

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It’s Official: Chelsea Clinton Ties the Knot!
Chelsea Clinton marries banker Marc Mezvinsky in star-studded ceremony in New York

Sunday, August 1, 2010

••• Chelsea Clinton has married her longtime boyfriend at an exclusive estate along New York’s Hudson River.

Bill and Hillary Clinton announced in a statement that their daughter wed investment banker Marc Mezvinsky on Saturday night after weeks of secrecy and buildup that had celebrity watchers flocking to the small village of Rhinebeck for the evening nuptials.

‘Today, we watched with great pride and overwhelming emotion as Chelsea and Marc wed in a beautiful ceremony at Astor Courts, surrounded by family and their close friends,’ the Clintons said.
‘We could not have asked for a more perfect day to celebrate the beginning of their life together, and we are so happy to welcome Marc into our family. On behalf of the newlyweds, we want to give special thanks to the people of Rhinebeck for welcoming us and to everyone for their well-wishes on this special day.’

More than 400 guests were expected at the historic estate.
Details of the wedding were kept fanatically close to the vest, with shopkeepers, innkeepers, vendors and restaurateurs sworn to secrecy.

Officials restricted airspace over the estate, and the area will remain a no-fly zone until 03:30 am local time on Sunday.
Roads were also blocked off, and inconvenienced neighbors were soothed with a complimentary bottle of wine.

Some of the celebrities spotted in Rhinebeck for the event included actors Ted Danson and Mary Steenburgen, fashion designer Vera Wang and Madeleine Albright, who was secretary of state during Bill Clinton’s second term as president.

The wedding took place at Astor Courts, a secluded estate along the Hudson River built as a Beaux Arts style playground for John Jacob Astor IV more than a century ago.
The estate features the sort of commanding view that once inspired Hudson River School painters, as well as 20 hectares of buffer space to shield the party from prying eyes.

Chelsea Clinton and Mezvinsky were friends as teenagers in Washington, and both attended Stanford University.

They now live in New York, where Mezvinsky works at G3 Capital, a Manhattan hedge fund. Mezvinsky worked previously at Goldman Sachs as an investment banker.

Clinton completed her master’s degree in public health earlier this year at the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University.

Mezvinsky is a son of former U.S. Reps Marjorie Margolies-Mezvinsky of Pennsylvania and Ed Mezvinsky of Iowa, longtime friends of the Clintons.

His parents are divorced.
» Related: Clinton wedding extravaganza special!
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29
Jul
10

Clinton wedding extravaganza special!

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Clinton wedding extravaganza special!

Thursday, July 29, 2010

••• Wedding bells aren’t ringing yet, but the cash tills are, as the countdown begins in tiny Rhinebeck to Chelsea Clinton’s celebrity wedding on Saturday.

‘It’s like having the Olympics in your town,’ exclaimed Alex Batkin, manager of the up-market Wing and Clover arts-and-craft boutique.

Like the rest of the world, locals can only guess at details of the secrecy-shrouded marriage between Chelsea, daughter of former president Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and her investment banker beau Marc Mezvinsky.

The guest list remains under wraps, with names as varied as Steven Spielberg and Oprah Winfrey thrown around on gossip websites, but President Barack Obama apparently is not showing.

The location is assumed to be the posh Astor Courts estate just outside Rhinebeck, almost a three hours drive from New York City, though even this has never been confirmed.

In any case, Rhinebeck, population less than 8000, is laying out the welcome mat.

‘Congratulations to Marc and Chelsea!’ a poster in the window of Pete’s Famous Restaurant, an old style diner, says.

‘Mazel tov,’ reads a sign in Samuel’s sweets shop, using the Hebrew for ‘good luck’ in a nod to the Jewish Mezvinsky.
Mixed with goodwill is hunger for good business in a sleepy town shifting from rural roots to the glitzier role of retreat for New York’s wealthy.

Echoing the Clinton family news blackout, no one here will openly discuss their share in the bonanza brought by the expected 400 guests at a no-expenses-spared party. But, clearly, no one wants to be left out.

One of the big winners is believed to be the picturesque Beekman Arms inn, which claims to be the oldest continuously operating hotel in the United States.

Workers were adding a lick of white paint under the roof on Tuesday as staff lugged in suitcases to fully booked rooms.

Asked who was staying, the normally polite front desk clerks became stony faced.

‘No comment,’ one told a reporter. Another conveyed the same message by raising her hands to make an X with two fingers.

Batkin’s store revealed at least one success: a painting bought as a gift for the betrothed.

The picture is emblazoned ‘Chelsea and Marc’ over a naive-style depiction of a wedding cake surrounded by trees, squirrels and a fish-filled river.
Of course, Batkin wouldn’t say how much the painting went for – or to whom.

‘I just can’t,’ he said apologetically.

Across the road at Liquors and Wines, Mike Haley said the supplier for white wine at the party would be Clinton Vineyards from the happily named nearby town of Clinton.

‘It’s light and dry. It goes good with fish or chicken,’ he said.

Haley looked wistfully at his huge selection of bottles. ‘I’d love to supply. I haven’t had a call from them yet, though,’ he said.

Hoping to get at least a few financial crumbs from the wedding table, he did put some bottles of Clinton Vineyards Tribute 2009 in his storefront window.’

Another entrepreneur seeking wedding joy is Rhinebeck Deli, where the menu features the Hillary Clinton-themed ‘Secretary of Steak’.’

Even the Hudson Valley Renegades, a minor league baseball team, wants to get in on the act.’
Their mascot, a man dressed as a raccoon, stood at Rhinebeck’s main crossroads on Tuesday with a sign reading: ‘Chelsea Will U Marry Me?’ Locals and bemused tourists grinned at the sight.’

‘We’re trying to get a little buzz going for the team, so people come down to the park and check us out,’ explained teammate A.J. Tomeny.’

All the excitement would implode spectacularly if it turned out Rhinebeck was not the real wedding location, but an elaborate diversion in the Clinton information war – as a few conspiracy minded locals suspect.’

The Hudson Valley News, a local weekly that has become a must-read for the growing international press corps in the town, says not to worry.’

Without citing sources, the latest edition reports that the wedding will indeed take place at Astor Courts, starting at 6 pm on Saturday and that police will shut down roads in the vicinity.’

‘Congratulations Chelsea and Marc’ the slightly premature front page banner headline reads.’

Drinking coffee in Pete’s Famous Restaurant, 79-year-old Ed Hammond called the hoopla ‘insane’.’

‘I think they’ve lost track of the two people at the centre, the ones actually getting married,’ he said.’

‘Myself, I’ll get the hell out. I’m not much of one for crowds.’
» Related: It’s Official: Chelsea Clinton Ties the Knot!
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05
Jul
10

2010 Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular

NEWS
2010 Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks Spectacular

Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks in New York City

Monday, July 5, 2010

Macy’s Fourth of July Fireworks 2010 turned out to be a spectacular and star studded event. On Sunday night as the whole of the United States joined hands to celebrate the Independence Day,Macy’s Fireworks only made the occasion all the more special. The community took care to bring some of the most well known singers on board as the fireworks lit up the sky above the Hudson River. Live on the deck of the Norwegian Epic cruise liner were teen singing sensation Justin Bieber who headlined this year’s Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks spectacle. Along with him were other singing sensations like Enrique Iglesias and LeAnn Rimes. Some of the star-casts of the “Twilight Saga: Eclipse” also made it to the deck.
If people jived to the singing of Justin Bieber and Enrique Iglesias along the Manhattan West Side then, there were millions more who enjoyed the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks 2010 on television as it was aired live by the NBC Networks on Sunday night. Although there were many who celebrated the occasion at home with family members and friends many came out witness the spectacle with their own eyes with hope that it would be “even better” to see it live.
There is no doubt about the fact that the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks 2010 lived up to the expectation of the thousands who came up all the way to the bank of the Hudson river to mark the occasion. The red, blue yellow and white fireworks with each different from the other and gigantic in size made it a thing of beauty.
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02
Jul
10

Judge Grants Bail to One of Alleged Russia Spies

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Judge Grants Bail to One of Alleged Russia Spies

Friday, July 2, 201

••• A prosecutor has warned that a powerful and sophisticated network of U.S.-based Russian agents was eager to help defendants in an alleged spy ring flee the country on bail.

U.S. authorities also said one defendant confessed that he worked for Russia’s intelligence service and others had large amounts of cash.

‘There are a lot of Russian government officials in the United States who are actively assisting this conspiracy,’ Assistant U.S. Attorney Michael Farbiarz told U.S. Magistrate Judge Ronald L. Ellis on Thursday as he argued that those arrested last weekend should remain held without bail.

Ellis ruled that two defendants, Cynthia and Richard Murphy, should remain in custody because there was no other way to guarantee they would not flee since it was unclear who they were.

But he set bail of $250,000 for prominent Spanish-language journalist Vicky Pelaez, a U.S. citizen born in Peru, saying she did not appear to be trained as a spy.

The judge required electronic monitoring and home detention and said she would not be freed before Tuesday, giving prosecutors time to appeal.

Ellis ruled after Farbiarz said the evidence against the defendants continued to mount and the case was solid.

‘Judge, this is a case where the evidence is extraordinarily strong. Prosecutors don’t get cases like this very often,’ he said.

The decision to set bail for one defendant came as police in Cyprus searched airports, ports and yacht marinas to find a man who had been going by the name Christopher Metsos, who disappeared after a judge there freed him on $32,500 bail.

‘This is a case that in the course of less than a week has gotten much, much better,’ Farbiarz said, citing $80,000 in new, hundred dollar bills found in the safe-deposit box of two defendants who had been living in Montclair, NJ.
Farbiarz said a criminal complaint filed against the defendants was ‘relatively long but the complaint is the tip of an iceberg’.

The prosecutor said new evidence included the discovery of multiple mobile phones and multiple currencies in a safe deposit box and other ‘tools of the trade when they’re in this business’.

He said the spy ring consisted of people who for decades had worked to Americanise themselves while engaging in secret global travel with false passports, secret code words, fake names, invisible ink, encrypted radio and techniques so sophisticated that prosecutors chose not to describe them in court papers.

If freed, Farbiarz warned, the defendants would certainly flee, using co-conspirators in the United States to disappear and the tentacles of ‘one of the most sophisticated intelligence services in the world’.

Farbiarz said the defendants have a ‘powerful sophisticated network they can call upon in the United States’.

The prosecutor’s claims were countered by lawyers for several defendants who said that their clients, accused of going undercover in U.S. cities and suburbs, were harmless and should be released on bail.

‘It’s all hyperbole, your honour,’ lawyer Donna Newman said on behalf of Richard Murphy.

She said Murphy was a stay-at-home-dad who did the chores while his wife Cynthia earned a good living.

Farbiarz said the couple was proof that the defendants carried out ‘deception and lies at a systematic level’.

He said U.S. agents had been surveilling them for years and yet ‘after all those years of listening, there is no inkling at all that their children who they live with have any idea their parents are Russian agents’.

Ellis said the disappearance of Metsos after he was granted bail on the Mediterranean island did not affect his ruling.

‘I don’t know what they do in Cyprus,’ the judge said.

Lawyers for Juan Lazaro asked to postpone his bail hearing just hours after prosecutors revealed in a letter to Ellis that Lazaro had made incriminating statements.

U.S. authorities said in their court filing that Lazaro made a lengthy statement after his June 27 arrest in which he discussed some details of the operation, which prosecutors said involved Russian moles on a long-term mission to infiltrate American society.

Among other things, prosecutors said, he admitted that Juan Lazaro was not his real name, that he wasn’t born in Uruguay and wasn’t a citizen of Peru, as he had long claimed, that his home in Yonkers, NY, had been paid for by Russian intelligence and that his wife, Pelaez, had passed letters to the ‘Service’ on his behalf.

He also told investigators that even though he loved his son, ‘he would not violate his loyalty to the ‘Service’ even for his son,’ three assistant U.S. lawyers wrote in a court memo.

They added that Lazaro, who investigators claim spent at least part of his childhood in Siberia, also wouldn’t reveal his true name.

Federal prosecutors said they had searched a safe-deposit box belonging to the Murphys this week and found eight unmarked envelopes each stuffed with $10,000.
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27
Jun
10

Prince Harry visits New York

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Prince Harry visits New York

Sunday, June 27, 2010

••• Prince Harry has abdicated the saddle.

The third in line for the British crown tumbled from his horse during a charity polo match at Governors Island today.

The thrown prince landed on his knees after falling from the left side of the horse, but quickly remounted and dusted himself off. Play resumed within 10 seconds.

The momentary clumsiness did nothing to diminish his royal dreaminess, spectators said.
Prince Harry says whatever the score in the World Cup clash with Germany, the country will be ‘hugely proud’ of the England team.

‘I just hope we beat Germany because there has been a bit of a past history between England and Germany,’ he told ABC television’s Good Morning America.

‘As long as our guys do their best the country will be hugely proud of them. I think we’ve already done fantastically well so let’s see how we go.’

Before sitting down for the interview the prince had thrown the ceremonial pitch at Citi Field, the new home of the New York Mets baseball team.

Football, rugby and polo are more in Prince Harry’s comfort zone, so he approached the pitching mound with some trepidation.
Thousands of New York Mets fans watched as the 25-year-old started, then abandoned, one attempt before finally giving it his best shot.

As he pretended to wipe sweat from his brow, the crowd roared its approval. Later it emerged he’d received some last-minute coaching from the Mets’ so-called ‘knuckleballer’ R.A. Dickey.

He said the prince was throwing with a more straight-armed cricket throw so he told him to bend his elbow.

‘We didn’t talk about Parliament or anything,’ Dickey said. ‘We’re just two guys having a catch.’
Later on Saturday night, Harry drummed up support for his own charity Sentebale which helps disadvantaged children in Lesotho.
‘Over 100 children are orphaned every day and within a population of 1.8 million there are 400, 000 orphans and vulnerable children – in a country the same size as this state of Connecticut,’ he told the guests at an exclusive country club.
‘Everyone here tonight can help, don’t think that you can’t – believe you can, because I have seen it in the children’s eyes.’

On Sunday he’ll join a race with servicemen recently injured in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Then, like many of his grandmother’s subjects. he’ll find a television to watch the match.
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22
Jun
10

Times Square car bomber details his chilling plot

NEWS
Times Square car bomber details his chilling plot

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

••• Admitted terrorist Faisal Shahzad was so eager to tell how he plotted to kill Americans in Times Square, he went to court with a prepared statement.

U.S. District Judge Miriam Cedarbaum refused to hear him read it on Monday, instead challenging the Pakistan-born American citizen to just say “what happened.”

In an unapologetic, matter-of-fact courtroom colloquy that followed, Shahzad offered chilling details about how he trained with the Pakistani Taliban to build bombs, then returned to the US to launch an attack that would avenge attacks on Muslims by U.S. forces overseas.

“One has to understand where I’m coming from,’ he said in an unusual departure from tightly scripted guilty pleas, with his defence lawyer and prosecutors sitting in silence in federal court in Manhattan. ‘I consider myself … a Muslim soldier.”

Shahzad, 30, admitted leaving a sport utility vehicle rigged with a homemade bomb in bustling Times Squares on a warm night on May 1.

The bomb failed to go off, and the Bridgeport, Connecticut, resident was arrested trying to leave the country on a Dubai-bound flight two days later.

Authorities say following his capture, Shahzad voluntarily started talking about the botched bombing right away – a pattern that continued in open court, where he agreed to plead guilty to 10 terrorism and weapons counts without the benefit of a plea deal and with certainty he’d face life in prison.

“I want to plead guilty, and I’m going to plead guilty 100 times over,” he said.

Until U.S. forces leave Muslim territory, he added, “we will be attacking U.S.”

Sentencing was set for October 5, and prosecutors say that at least one of the counts to which Shahzad pleaded guilty carries a mandatory life term. With no parole in the federal system, that means he would die behind bars.
Widely circulated snapshots of Shahzad – a U.S.-trained financial analyst and married father of two – show him with a neatly trimmed beard, all smiles and looking carefree behind sunglasses driving a car, or standing next to his American wife. When led into court on Monday, he had on a white skull cap and prisoner’s uniform, his beard shaggy and his demeanor full of pride and absent of remorse.

Shahzad traced his plot to a 2009 trip to Pakistan that began only three months after he received his U.S. citizenship.

While staying with his parents, he ventured into the lawless Waziristan region in December with “a couple of friends … to join the (Pakistani) Taliban.” He didn’t describe the friends any further.

But an intelligence official in Pakistan told The Associated Press that CIA investigators have been given access to two Pakistani men who helped Shahzad reach Mir Ali town in North Waziristan, as well as to three other suspects being held by Pakistani authorities.

The official insisted on anonymity because Pakistan’s intelligence agency does not allow its operatives to be identified.

Shahzad said he sought and received five days’ training in explosives before returning to the United States in February to pursue a one-man scheme to bring death and destruction to New York with funding from the militant group.

The indictment said he received $5,000 in cash on February 25 from an unnamed coconspirator in Pakistan and $7,000 more on April 10, sent at the coconspirator’s direction.

Authorities say the bomb malfunctioned, emitting smoke that attracted the attention of an alert street vendor, who notified police, setting in motion a rapid evacuation of several city blocks.

The judge kept up a steady back-and-forth with Shahzad, questioning how it was possible he pulled off the near-bombing solo.

“You built the bomb all by yourself?” she asked.

“Yes. … Nobody helped me,” he replied.

She also pressed him on how he could target U.S. civilians if his goal was to retaliate against U.S. forces, asking of the potential in Times Square that night, “Did you look around to see who they were?”

“Well, the people select the government,” Shahzad said. “We consider them all the same. The drones, when they hit …”

Cedarbaum interrupted again: “Including the children?”

Shahzad answered: “Well, the drone hits in Afghanistan and Iraq, they don’t see children, they don’t see anybody. They kill women, children, they kill everybody. It’s a war, and in war, they kill people.

They’re killing all Muslims.”

Later, he added: “I am part of the answer to the U.S. terrorising the Muslim nations and the Muslim people. And, on behalf of that, I’m avenging the attack.

Living in the United States, Americans only care about their own people, but they don’t care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die.”
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• Source(s): Department of Justice
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22
Jun
10

Times Square bomb accused Faisal Shahzad pleads guilty

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Times Square bomb accused Faisal Shahzad pleads guilty

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

••• Pakistani-born American Faisal Shahzad pleaded guilty on Monday to the Times Square car bomb bid “100 times”, defiantly warning of more attacks on the United States until it leaves Muslim lands.

Reading out a combative statement in court, Shahzad portrayed himself as a Muslim warrior and showed no remorse as he pleaded guilty to all 10 charges, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and terrorism.

“I want to plead guilty 100 times because unless the U.S. pulls out of Afghanistan and Iraq, until they stop drone strikes in Somalia, Pakistan, and Yemen, and stop attacking Muslim lands, we will attack the U.S. and be out to get them,” he said, speaking in perfect English.

Asked by judge Miriam Cedarbaum why he tried to kill innocent Americans, 30-year-old Shahzad, who wore a white Muslim skullcap during the 90-minute proceedings, was unrepentant.

“Listen, you are attacking children with your drones in Afghanistan,” he said. “I would not consider what I did was a crime. I’m aware it’s a violation of the United States laws, but I don’t care for the laws of the United States.”

Shahzad was pulled off a flight to Dubai on May 3, two days after he parked a car containing a rudimentary explosive device in New York’s Broadway entertainment district.

The attempted bombing on a busy Saturday night was foiled when street vendors spotted smoke emanating from the back of a Nissan Pathfinder and alerted the authorities.

A 53-hour manhunt ensued, ending with Shahzad’s arrest as his plane was about to taxi for take-off from John F Kennedy Airport to Dubai.

“Americans only care about their people but they don’t care about the people elsewhere in the world when they die.”
– Failed bomber Faisal Shahzad

U.S. attorney Preet Bharara said there was no plea agreement between Shahzad and the U.S. government.

Shahzad was assured and determined as he spoke in detail in court, describing eerily how he plotted the attack to cause maximum casualties and waited for a bomb to go off that never did.

“I walked to Grand Central station. I was waiting to hear a sound, but I did not hear any sound so I went home,” he said.

“I didn’t choose a specific building, but I chose the center of Times Square, and obviously, the time, 6.30 pm, and obviously, a Saturday, May 1st.”

Shahzad told the judge he had undergone bomb-making training during a 40-day stay with the Pakistani Taliban in Pakistan, between December 9 and January 25.

The five days of bomb-making training involved “the whole thing – how to make a bomb, how to detonate it,” he said.

On returning to the U.S., Shahzad said he planned the bombing alone and acted all by himself, telling the judge: “Nobody helped me.”‘
A 10-count indictment handed down on Thursday alleged that Shahzad received two payments totalling $12,000 from an unidentified co-conspirator in Pakistan.

He used the money to buy a semi-automatic nine millimetre Kel-Tec (Kel-Tec CNC Industries Inc.) rifle in March and the Nissan Pathfinder, for which he paid $1,300 cash in a supermarket parking lot on April 24, it alleged.

He then bought components for ‘improvised explosive and incendiary devices’, loaded them in the Pathfinder, and on May 1 drove the sport utility vehicle to Times Square, the complaint said.

Shahzad pleaded guilty to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, attempted act of terrorism transcending national boundaries, attempted use of a destructive device in a terrorist conspiracy and a string of other conspiracy, explosives and weapons related charges.

Shahzad has co-operated fully in custody, waiving Miranda rights that protect detainees from incriminating themselves, U.S. justice officials say.

“Faisal Shahzad plotted and launched an attack that could have led to serious loss of life, and today the American criminal justice system ensured that he will pay the price for his actions,” Attorney General Eric Holder said, reacting to the guilty plea.

The son of a respected Pakistani air force officer, Shahzad attended an elite Pakistan Air Force college before coming to the United States to study at the age of 18 and eventually becoming a naturalized American citizen.

The botched car bombing left residents, visitors and authorities in Times Square jittery, with several ‘suspicious packages’ that later turned out to be harmless sparking false alarms.

U.S. aviation officials also changed security regulations, shortening the amount of time for airlines to check updated “no-fly” lists, after Shahzad was able to board his flight despite having been added to the list.
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• Source(s): Department of Justice
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21
Jun
10

NYC car bomb suspect faces terror, weapons hearing

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NYC car bomb suspect faces terror, weapons hearing

Monday, June 21, 2010

New York’s Times Square bomb suspect Faisal Shahzad pled guilty to failed use of a weapon of mass destruction Monday afternoon.

Shahzad’s noon arraignment was postponed until 4:30 p.m. No reason was given.

Last week Shahzad was indicted on 10 courts including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

Shahzad entered the plea to the first of 10 charges in the indictment, but said he planned to plead guilty to all of them. He reportedly told the judge he wanted to “plead guilty and 100 times more.”
He also warned that unless the U.S. leaves Muslim lands, “We will be attacking U.S.”

The botched plot involved a gasoline-and-propane bomb that failed to ignite in an SUV parked in the center of Times Square on May 1.

Soon after his arrest on May 3, he reportedly cooperated with investigators.

The 30-year-old Pakistani-born Shahzad, who became a U.S. citizen last year, was arrested aboard a Dubai-bound jetliner two days later that was minutes from leaving New York’s JFK International Airport.
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• Source(s): Department of Justice
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20
Jun
10

Al-Qaeda Lays Out Conditions for Peace With U.S.

NEWS
Al-Qaeda Lays Out Conditions for Peace With U.S.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

••• Al-Qaeda’s U.S.-born spokesman has warned President Barack Obama the militant group may launch new attacks that would kill more Americans than previous ones.

In a taunting, 24-minute message that dwelled on Obama’s setbacks, including the loss of the Massachusetts Senate seat to the Republicans, Adam Gadahn set out al-Qaeda’s conditions for peace with the US, including cutting support for Israel and withdrawal of troops from Afghanistan.

Gadahn said if you compared the number of dead Muslims ‘with the relatively small number of Americans we have killed so far, it becomes crystal-clear that we haven’t even begun to even the score,’ he said, dressed in a white robe and turban.

‘That’s why next time, we might not show the restraint and self-control we have shown up until now,’ he said. Even if al-Qaeda was defeated, ‘hundreds of millions of Muslims’ would still fight the U.S., he added.

Al-Qaeda offered the same conditions for an end to hostilities to then President George W. Bush in 2007, including the release of all Muslim prisoners and cutting off aid to Middle East governments.

Gadahn’s statement was notable for its mocking tone, in which he described Obama as ‘a devious, evasive and serpentine American president with a Muslim name’, and seemed to delight in his setbacks.

‘You’re no longer the popular man you once were, a year ago or so,’ he crowed, ascribing his drop in popularity to the escalation of the U.S. wars abroad.

At the time of Obama’s election, many analysts said al-Qaeda was worried his race and Muslim family connections would make him more appealing to Muslims and Arabs angry at Bush’s foreign policy.

In its statements since his election, al-Qaeda has taken pains to show the continuity between Obama’s foreign policy and that of his predecessor.

Gadahn is wanted by the FBI since 2004 with a $1 million reward for information leading to his arrest or conviction. He is also known as Azzam al-Amriki, Arabic for the American.
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02
Jun
10

Times Square Bomber Case Delayed

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Times Square Bomber Case Delayed

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

The court case for Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-born American accused of planting a car bomb in Times Square, will be postponed by three weeks to allow him time to speak with authorities, a judge said on Wednesday.

At the prosecutors’ request, endorsed by Shahzad, Judge Theodore Katz put off the first hearing until June 21.

‘The granting of such a continuance best serves the ends of justice and outweighs the best interests of the public and the defendant in a speedy trial,’ he said in a statement.

Shahzad, a 30-year-old Pakistani-born naturalised U.S. citizen, was arrested apparently trying to flee the country on a flight to Dubai on May 3, on charges of leaving a bomb-packed SUV in the bustling heart of New York’s Times Square.
Officials have said he has cooperated fully with investigators after repeatedly waiving his legal his Miranda rights, which protect detainees from incriminating themselves, and had also waived his right to a speedy court appearance and a lawyer.

Based on information provided by Shahzad, U.S. authorities have carried out several raids in the U.S. northeast, including a May 13 operation that led to the detention of three suspects from Pakistan accused of funnelling money to him.

Shahzad faces five charges, including attempted use of weapons of mass destruction and attempting acts of terrorism across national boundaries, both of which carry maximum sentences of life in prison.
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• Source(s): Department of Justice
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25
May
10

AT&T Launches Wi-Fi Zone in NYC’s Time Square

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AT&T Launches Wi-Fi Zone in NYC’s Time Square

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

••• AT&T today announced the launch of an AT&T Wi-Fi “hotzone” in New York City’s Times Square. The pilot comes as AT&T looks for offload strategies in major markets like Manhattan and San Francisco, where the carrier has admitted its network performance has suffered.

AT&T has installed Wi-Fi service in the north central part of Times Square, near 7th Avenue between 45th and 47th Street. The effect is a large outdoor hotspot zone that AT&T users can access using any Wi-Fi enabled device. The ATT Wi-Fi hotzone at Times Square is available at no additional charge.

“With this pilot AT&T Wi-Fi hotzone, we’re examining new ways to combine our Wi-Fi and 3G networks to help ensure that AT&T customers in Times Square always have a fast mobile broadband connection to do what matters most to them,” said John Donovan, AT&T chief technology officer, in a statement.

AT&T claims that it has seen mobile data traffic growth of 5,000 percent over the past three years. As a result, the company has been experimenting with technologies like 3G MicroCell devices for homes, distributed Antenna System networks to extend 3G coverage in stadiums, convention halls and other areas where people congregate; and temporary network enhancements to support one-time events and emergency situations.

Pressed to find a solution to the 5,000% growth in its mobile data traffic, AT&T said Tuesday it is exploring establishing public Wi-Fi “hotzones” to relieve pressure on its mobile phone network, most of it caused by iPhone users.

AT&T said it has launched a “pilot deployment” in New York City’s Times Square, the nation’s symbolic public crossroads.

Wi-Fi hotspots have been proliferating in New York City, but most of them are for use by customers already paying for other services. For instance, Cablevision, Comcast, and Time Warner Cable currently offer Wi-Fi service across a vast New York-New Jersey-Connecticut region, but users must already be a paid customer of one of the providers.

AT&T itself has some 20,000 Wi-Fi hotspots that can be utilized by users who have an AT&T service. The Times Square service is free to AT&T customers with certain smartphones, laptops, and AT&T Internet plans.

With the Federal Communications Commission already sounding the alarm of an approaching “spectrum crisis” due largely to the rapid proliferation of smartphones and their insatiable thirst for data, carriers are seeking ways to encourage subscribers to use non-carrier spectrum. The FCC has suggested that Wi-Fi and femtocells be utilized to ease the spectrum crunch. AT&T recently began marketing its 3G MicroCell femtocell devices to its customers.

AT&T, which has an exclusive contract to market Apple’s popular – and data-guzzling – iPhone, has seen its mobile traffic grow 5,000% in three years and the New York City area has been particularly affected.

“With this pilot AT&T Wi-Fi hotzone, we’re examining new ways to combine our Wi-Fi and 3G networks to help ensure that AT&T customers in Times Square always have a fast mobile broadband connection,” said John Donovan, AT&T chief technology officer, in a statement. “It’s another example of how AT&T is exploring the ideal blend of technologies to maximize the mobile experience for our customers in New York City.”

Verizon Wireless offers a public area Wi-Fi service to many of its customers through a partnership with Boingo. If Verizon eventually markets an iPhone, as is rumored, the development would take at least some of the spectrum pressure off AT&T.
• Source(s): AT&T

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04
May
10

Barack Obama: America will not be ‘terrorized’

NEWS
Barack Obama: America will not be ‘terrorized’

The President on Times Square: “But as Americans, and as a Nation, We Will Not Be Terrorized”

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

President Barack Obama says the failed Times Square attack is a sobering reminder of current security threats, but vowed America would not be terrorised or cower in fear.

The president said the FBI and law enforcement officers had all the tools they needed to investigate the attack and would probe whether the Pakistani American suspect arrested on Monday had links to foreign extremists.

‘This incident is another sobering reminder of the times in which we live,’ Obama said in a speech to the Business Council in Washington on Tuesday.

‘Around the world and here at home there are those who would attack our citizens and who would slaughter innocent men, women and children in pursuit of their murderous agenda.’

‘They will stop at nothing to kill and disrupt our way of life.’

Obama said hundreds of lives may have been saved by the vigilance of citizens and law enforcement authorities in New York when the car bomb attack was thwarted on Saturday night.

And he promised that Americans would stick together and keep their heads held high after the failed attack.

‘We know that the aim of those who try to carry out those attacks is to force us to live in fear and thereby amplifying the effects of their attacks, even those that fail.’

‘But as Americans, and as a nation, we will not be terrorised.’

‘We will not cower in fear. We will not be intimidated.’

Speaking hours after a suspect was pulled off a plane about to depart for the Middle East, Obama said ‘justice will be done’ in the incident.

The president said ‘hundreds of lives’ may have been saved through quick action by ordinary citizens and local, state and federal authorities.

Earlier, spokesman Robert Gibbs told reporters that Obama had been informed a few minutes after midnight about the arrest of a suspect, Faisal Shahzad.

Shahzad, a Pakistan-born U.S. citizen, is suspected of driving a bomb-laden SUV into Times Square last Saturday and parking it on a street lined with restaurants and Broadway theatres.

Shahzad, was taken into custody late Monday by FBI agents and New York Police Department detectives at Kennedy Airport after he boarded a flight to Dubai, according to officials.
• Source(s): The White House
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04
May
10

New York bomb plot suspect says acted alone

NEWS
New York bomb plot suspect says acted alone

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

U.S. prosecutors have filed terrorism charges against Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American accused of planting a car bomb in New York’s Times Square.

The 10-page criminal complaint on Tuesday accuses Shahzad, 30, of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction to kill people in the crowded centre of New York on Saturday.

He was also slapped with four other charges – attempting to kill people in the United States through international terrorism, carrying a destructive device, transporting explosives and attempting to destroy a building.

The criminal complaint detailed elements of the investigation against Shahzad, who was captured on Sunday as he tried to fly out of New York to Dubai.

The document said that Shahzad admitted receiving training in bomb-making in Pakistan’s unruly Waziristan region, a key hub for Taliban and al-Qaeda militants.

Shahzad, a naturalised U .S. citizen, flew back to the United States on February 3 on a one-way ticket, leaving his wife behind in Pakistan.

The complaint said that Shahzad told immigration authorities he had spent five months in Pakistan visiting his parents and that he would planned to stay at a motel in Connecticut as he found work.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, speaking earlier at a news conference in Washington, said that Shahzad had been questioned on his return to the United States as he had set off a trigger for additional screening.

The criminal complaint said that Shahzad bought the Nissan Pathfinder, which he would later use in the car bomb, after finding an advertisement on the internet.

Shahzad met the seller at a supermarket parking lot in Connecticut on April 24. The Pakistani-American arrived in an Isuzu Rodeo with tinted windows and paid the $1300 in 100 dollar bills, declining to do paperwork for the transaction.

Investigators later helped identify Shahzad through a sketch artist.

The criminal complaint said that Shahzad carried a pre-paid cellular telephone and that he was receiving regular phone calls from Pakistan when completing the purchase of the Pathfinder.

He also telephoned a store in Pennsylvania that sold M-88 fireworks, one of the explosives in the failed car bomb, the complaint said.

Shahzad left a key to his Connecticut home in the Pathfinder, the complaint said, adding that investigators found bomb-making equipment when they searched it.

The criminal complaint said that Shahzad drove a different car from Times Square to John F. Kennedy International Airport – and told investigators he had a gun inside it.

Attorney General Eric Holder on the Times Square Investigation

Earlier this evening, Faisal Shahzad was arrested in connection with the attempted car bombing in New York on Saturday. Mr. Shahzad, an American citizen, was taken into custody at JFK Airport in New York as he attempted to board a flight to Dubai.

Since this plot was first uncovered on Saturday night, the FBI, prosecutors and intelligence lawyers in the National Security Division of the Justice Department and the U.S. Attorneys Offices in Manhattan and Connecticut, along with the NYPD have worked night and day to find out who was responsible for what would have been a deadly attack had it been successful. Over the course of the day today, we have gathered significant additional evidence that led to tonight’s arrest, which was made by agents from Department of Homeland Security’s Customs and Border Protection.

This investigation is ongoing, as are our attempts to gather useful intelligence, and we continue to pursue a number of leads. But it’s clear that the intent behind this terrorist act was to kill Americans.

FBI agents are working with their state and local counterparts in New York, Connecticut and other jurisdictions to gather evidence and intelligence related to this case. We are also coordinating with other members of the President’s national security team to ensure we use every resource available to the United States to bring anyone responsible to justice.

We continue to gather leads in this investigation, and it’s important that the American people remain vigilant. The vehicle in Times Square was first noticed on Saturday by a citizen who reported it to authorities, and, as always, any American who notices suspicious activity should report it to the appropriate law enforcement agencies.

This investigation is ongoing, it is multi-faceted, and it is aggressive. As we move forward, we will focus on not just holding those responsible for it accountable, but also on obtaining any intelligence about terrorist organizations overseas.

Because of the fast-moving nature of this investigation, I am not able to make any further information public at this time. But the American people should know that we are deploying every resource available, and we will not rest until we have brought everyone responsible to justice.

• Source(s): Department of Justice
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03
May
10

Times Square Vehicle’s Owner ‘Not a Suspect’

NEWS
Times Square Vehicle’s Owner ‘Not a Suspect’

Monday, May 3, 2010

A law enforcement official says the registered owner of an SUV used in a botched bombing in Times Square told investigators he sold it for cash three weeks ago.

The official tells The Associated Press that the Connecticut owner questioned on Sunday about what happened to the SUV says he sold the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder to a stranger.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity to the AP on Monday because the investigation is at a sensitive stage.

Investigators interviewed the last owner on record of the vehicle in a probe of a failed bombing that cleared several streets around Times Square of thousands of tourists on a busy Saturday night.

Officials say the owner, whose name has not been released, is not considered a suspect.

Police said the crude petrol-and-propane bomb discovered on Saturday at Times Square could have produced ‘a significant fireball’ and sprayed shrapnel and metal parts with enough force to kill pedestrians and knock out windows. The SUV was parked on one of America’s busiest streets, lined with Broadway theatres and restaurants and full of people out on a Saturday night.

The area bounced back quickly and had returned to its normal bustle on a rainy Monday morning.

Police released a photograph of the SUV as it crossed an intersection at 6.28pm EDT. A handbag vendor pointed out the SUV to an officer about two minutes later.

President Barack Obama on Monday telephoned the vendor, Duane Jackson, 58, of Buchanan, New York, to commend him for alerting authorities to the smoking SUV. The White House said Obama thanked Jackson for his vigilance and for acting quickly to prevent serious trouble.

On Sunday, Bloomberg took NYPD officer Wayne Rhatigan of the mounted police force out for a steak dinner a few blocks from the bombing attempt. Rhatigan had quickly moved tourists out of the way when he was told of the smoking SUV.

Paul Browne, the NYPD’s deputy commissioner for public information, said officials were still looking for the driver.

The vehicle identification number on the 1993 dark-coloured Nissan Pathfinder had been removed from the dashboard, but it was stamped on the engine and axle. Its licence plates came from a car found in a Connecticut repair shop.

Investigators were also looking on Monday to speak with a man in his 40s videotaped shedding his shirt near the sport utility vehicle where the bomb was found.

The surveillance video, made public late on Sunday, shows an unidentified white man apparently in his 40s slipping down Shubert Alley and taking off his shirt, revealing another underneath. In the same clip, he looks back in the direction of the smoking vehicle and furtively puts the first shirt in a bag.

Attorney General Eric Holder said on Monday that investigators have some good leads in addition to the videotape of the man. Holder said in remarks to reporters that it was too early to say whether the incident was of foreign or domestic origin or to designate it as terrorism.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said on NBC’s Today show on Monday that no suspects or theories had been ruled out. ‘Right now, every lead has to be pursued,’ she said.

And investigators had not ruled out a range of possible motives. The Pakistani Taliban appeared to claim responsibility for the car bomb in three videos that surfaced after the weekend scare, monitoring groups said. New York officials said police have no evidence to support the claims.

Peter King, the top Republican on the House Homeland Security Committee, said on Monday on Fox News that there was no intelligence chatter before Saturday, making a foreign connection unlikely.

The SUV was parked near offices of Viacom Inc, which owns Comedy Central. The network recently aired an episode of the animated show South Park that the group Revolution Muslim had complained insulted the Prophet Mohammed by depicting him in a bear costume.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg cautioned that the man on the tape may not become a suspect but urged him to come forward.

‘He may or may not have been involved,’ he said, adding it was a hot day and he might simply have been trying to cool off.
• Source(s): Associated Press and Thomson Reuters

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02
May
10

Who’s Behind the Times Square Bomb Scare?

NEWS
Who’s Behind the Times Square Bomb Scare?
Explosive material removed from smoking car in NYC’s Times Square

Sunday, May 02, 2010

A smoking auto in the heart of New York City’s teeming Times Square Saturday evening tipped authorities to “an improvised car bomb,” officials announced early Sunday morning.

The area was immediately evacuated, with some Broadway shows canceled and streets blocked off. There was no explosion. The device was dismantled and there were no reports of injuries. Officials said the FBI is assisting the New York Police Department in the investigation.

Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelley, attending the White House Correspondents’ Association annual dinner in Washington, DC, rushed back to New York while the device was dismantled in the small hours of Sunday morning in a Times Square deserted except for police.

“We avoided what could have been a very deadly event,” Bloomberg, still dressed in his formal dinner clothes, told reporters on West 43rd Street across the street from the police Times Square substation. “There were gas cans and bomb making materials in the car.”

The car contained three propane tanks, two gas containers, “consumer grade fireworks,” clocks and crude wiring, the mayor said.

“This is a further reminder of the dangers we face,” he said, reminding residents of the target the city presents to terrorists.

“It certainly could have exploded and caused a pretty big fire and a decent amount of explosive impact,” Bloomberg said.

Kelly described a box resembling “gun locker” recovered from the auto and said it was being taken to the Police Department’s firing range in the city’s Bronx borough to be detonated.

The police “rendered safe an improvised car bomb” in the car found with “its engine running and lights flashing” just off Seventh Avenue, the police commissioner said.

Bloomberg said a T-shirt vendor, identified only as a Vietnam veteran, alerted Police Officer Wayne Rattigan mounted on his horse Megs who checked the car, smelled gunpowder and radioed for help.

The dark green Nissan Pathfinder sports utility vehicle (SUV) near the intersection of West 45th Street and Seventh Avenue, the heart of Times Square, was spotted emitting white smoke, around 6:30 p.m. EDT.

The Fire Department responded and spotted the propane tanks, a spokesman said.

Rattigan ordered that the immediate area be cleared and the area from 44th to 47th Streets along Seventh Avenue evacuated, a Police Department spokesman told. Nearby buildings were emptied and the streets cleared of people and vehicles.

The police bomb squad and Emergency Services units were called and when they confirmed the explosive material the cleared area was expanded from 43rd to 48th Streets and from Sixth to Eighth avenues, an enormous area encompassing virtually all of Times Square, in central Manhattan. Traffic in the area came to a near standstill at times.

The mayor said the license plate on the SUV did not match the car and the owner of the plates said they had been on a truck he had sent to a junk yard. Bloomberg said there was no reason to doubt his story but it was being checked out.

“Who abandoned the car and why are under investigation,” the mayor said.

The Pathfinder had no vehicle identification number, Kelly said. There were no immediate suspects nor was any group identified as possibly being behind the attempt.

Video surveillance cameras in the area were being checked and the vehicle was believed spotted being driven in the area but no pictures have emerged of any suspect or suspects exiting the vehicle, Bloomberg said, although it would take time to go through surveillance tapes from buildings which were closed over the weekend.

The mayor, who praised Rattigan, the mounted officer, the T-shirt vendor, the police and fire departments and other city agencies and New Yorkers in general for helping avert a disaster. He was flanked by New York State Governor David Paterson, and other city officials.

Officials said police were held over to check their facilities for suspicious devices and some reporters heard dispatchers on police radios instruct “all commands” to check the vicinity of police stations and vehicles for possible devices. They also were alerted to check suspicious vehicles for possible devices.

Asked by reporters what New Yorkers should do, Bloomberg advised them to go about their business as usual and to continue enjoying the balmy weather, but quickly added, “If you see something; say something,” as the T-shirt vendor did.

The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility in a video for the attempted car bomb attack in New York’s Times Square.
In the one minute, 11 second video allegedly released by the Pakistani Taliban, the group says the attack is revenge for the death of its leader, Baitullah Mehsud, and the recent slayings of the top leaders of al-Qaeda in Iraq – Abu Omar al-Baghdadi and Abu Ayyub al-Masri, who were killed by U.S. and Iraqi troops last month north of Baghdad.

An unidentified speaker on the tape, uncovered by the U.S.-based SITE monitoring group, also says the attack comes in response to American ‘interference and terrorism in Muslim Countries, especially in Pakistan’.

The claim could not be immediately confirmed. The tape makes no specific reference to the attack; it does not mention that it was a car bomb or that it took place in New York City.

A text in gold letters on a black background at the start of the video congratulates Muslims for the ‘jaw-breaking blow to Satan’s U.S.A.’. As the speaker recites the message, images of the slain militants referred to flash across the screen. English subtitles are provided at the bottom of the screen.

The video was uncovered on Sunday by SITE, which monitors militant websites and has been accurate with such militant claims in the past.

The Pakistani Taliban is one of Pakistan’s largest and deadliest militant groups. It has strong links to al-Qaeda and is based in the northwest close to the Afghan border. The group has carried out scores of bloody attacks inside Pakistan in recent years, mostly against Pakistani targets, but it has made no secret of its hatred toward the United States.

If the claim of responsibility is genuine, it would be the first time the group has struck outside South Asia.

Last year, its then commander, Baitullah Mehsud, vowed to ‘amaze everyone in the world’ with an attack on Washington or even the White House. But Mehsud also reportedly said his men were behind a mass shooting in March 2009 at the American Civic Association in Binghamton in April 2009. That claim turned out to be false.

Police destroyed a microwave oven found near the finish line of the Pittsburgh Marathon, but officials say they now believe the small oven did not contain an explosive device.

Hours after a car bomb was discovered in New York’s Times Square, the oven was found on a sidewalk in front of a bus terminal near the site where about 5,000 people were going to complete the Sunday morning race.

The Pittsburgh Bomb Squad secured the area near the oven and then detonated it, removed it from the scene and reopened the area. There were no injuries.

• Source(s): Bloomberg L.P., Associated Press, Thomson Reuters and CNN
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29
Apr
10

Protesters enter NYC bank buildings before rally

NEWS
Protesters enter NYC bank buildings before rally

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Noisy protesters with signs took over three bank building lobbies on Thursday in a prelude to a Wall Street rally by workers and union leaders angry over lost jobs, the taxpayer-funded bailout of financial institutions and questionable lending practices by big banks.

Hours before the scheduled rally, more than 100 people entered a midtown Manhattan building housing JPMorgan Chase offices. They handed a bank executive a letter requesting a meeting with the CEO, and chanted ‘Bust up big banks!’ and ‘People power!’
A half-hour later, they were calmly escorted outside by officers, who remained expressionless as the protesters chanted, ‘The police need a raise.’

They then walked a few blocks down Park Avenue and crowded into a Wells Fargo and Wachovia building lobby. Police arrived on horseback as curious office workers watched the scene unfold from their windows.
‘We’re here today to stop the corporate greed that is ruining our neighbourhoods,’ said Andrea Goldman, 59, who’s part of a group called Alliance to Develop Power.

Sign slogans included: ‘Save Our Jobs’ and ‘Save Our Homes’.

The banks did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Thousands of workers and union members were expected at the rally, organised by the AFL-CIO, the largest federation of North American labour unions, and an association of community groups.

The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association, which includes many Wall Street financial institutions, declined to comment.

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