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Faisal was close to 26/11 mastermind

world Updated: May 07, 2010 23:32 IST
Anirudh Bhattacharya

Faisal Shahzad was “childhood friends” with one of the “masterminds” of the Mumbai terror attacks, said the US TV channel ABC which quoted law enforcement and intelligence agencies. However, no name was given though it highlighted the possibility that he may have had Lashkar-e-Tayyeba contacts which was behind the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Shahzad seems to have been part of the incestuous “terror establishment” in Pakistan, as was David Headley. While Headley’s Pakistani father was a former diplomat and headed Pakistan radio, Shahzad’s father, Baharul Haq, is a retired air vice-marshal. Haq has been detained for questioning.

Authorities, said an AP report, are also hunting for a suspected money courier who helped finance Shahzad’s Times Square plot. A US law enforcement official said they have the courier’s nametion of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the investigation. Determining the source of Shahzad’s money is seen as a crucial means to determine if any organisation was behind the attack.

Among Shahzad’s “jihadi contacts”, said ABC, was Anwar Awlaki, the Yemeni-Amsserican cleric who is said to have inspired two other Islamist militants — Major Nidal Hasan, who was behind the Fort Hood killings and Umar Farouk Abdulmuttalab, the Nigerian “Christmas” bomber.

The Mehsud brothers, who have been the leaders of the Tehreek e Taliban (the so-called “Pakistan Taliban”), appear to have been “family friends”.

Lisa Curtis, a Heritage Foundation South Asia security analyst, said, “There is fluidity with these groups overriding memberships.” She said it appeared that Shahzad “came into contact, inside Pakistan” with the Jaish-e-Mohammad and the Pakistan Taliban.

Shahzad told interrogators he was angry with the CIA missile strikes within Pakistan and was also “under duress” to undertake the abortive Times Square car bombing as he “feared for his family’s safety if he did not fulfill the mission.” His wife Huma Mian, originally from Colorado, and two children, are in Pakistan.

The Tehreek e Taliban, said its spokesman Azam Tariq, “had no links with Faisal Shahzad. We never imparted training to him, nor had he ever come to us.” He praised Shahzad’s abortive attack and claimed his group had suicide bombers in the US who would act at the appropriate time.