A naturalised American citizen from Pakistan has been arrested after the attempted car bombing in Times Square.
Agents from the Department of Homeland Security arrested Faisal Shahzad at New York's John F Kennedy International Airport as he was waiting to board a flight to Dubai.
The announcement came less than three days after a botched bombing attempt that led police to evacuate parts of Times Square.
"But it's clear that the intent behind this terrorist act was to kill Americans," said US Attorney General Eric Holder.
Agents from the FBI and New York City police detectives arrested Shahzad for "allegedly driving a car bomb into Times Square on the evening of May 1".
The 1993 Nissan Pathfinder was sold for cash about three weeks ago at a Connecticut shopping mall in a sale arranged through the Craigslist website, CNN reported, citing an unidentified person in law enforcement with knowledge of the investigation.
Investigators interviewed the former owner of the bomb-carrying sport-utility vehicle, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg said.
The person was tracked through the car's vehicle identification number, which was stripped from the dashboard.
The number is also typically stamped on parts such as the engine block.
The attempted bombing "was intended to terrorise, and I would say that whomever did that would be categorised as a terrorist," Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary said yesterday. The intended detonator, Kelly said, was a can filled with fireworks.
The car also held two containers of gasoline and three propane tanks, wired with two clocks, the commissioner said.
A man described as about 40 years old was seen on a neighbourhood surveillance camera as he hurried through Shubert Alley, a pedestrian walkway between West 44th and West 45th Streets, steps from where the explosive-laden car was parked May 1, he said.
The man can be seen on the video removing a dark shirt, revealing a red T-shirt underneath, Kelly said.
He placed the outer shirt in a bag and walked from the scene "in a furtive manner," the commissioner said.