As investigators continued questioning Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad, the Obama administration was preparing to deliver to Pakistan a detailed request for urgent and specific assistance.
US officials said that they had reached no firm conclusion about whether Shahzad had ties to any domestic militant group in Pakistan but that information gathered thus far continued to point to the Pakistani Taliban, which has asserted responsibility for the bombing attempt.
The question of which group, if any, was involved is an important one for the future of the uneasy counterterrorism alliance between the United States and Pakistan. The Pakistani military has been waging war against the Pakistani Taliban for more than a year, with US assistance.
But Pakistan might be more reluctant to take action against other groups, particularly those focused on separating the disputed region of Kashmir from India. Some, particularly Lashkar-e-Tayyeba, thought responsible for terrorist attacks in India, have strong support within the Pakistani intelligence service. Pakistani officials aiding in the Times Square case said they have arrested some persons linked to a third group, Jaish-i-Muhammad, which is focused on Kashmir but has also turned its efforts against US troops in Afghanistan.
A US counterterrorism official said it was possible that two or more groups had worked together in grooming Shahzad for a terrorist mission during an extended trip he made to Pakistan last year. “There is a serious Venn diagram issue going on here,” the official said. US intelligence suspects there is increasing overlap and coordination among domestic Pakistani groups and the Pakistan-based Afghan Taliban and Al-Qaeda.
The official said the administration’s goal was to present a detailed request for cooperation to Pakistan by the end of this week.
A senior Pakistani official said that the United States “hasn’t done any comprehensive briefing of what they want from us. That doesn’t mean they haven’t told us what they would like.”
So far, the only specific US request has been to interview Shahzad’s parents; a Pakistani official said the parents had not been located.
In Exclusive Partnership with The Washington Post