NY plot shows radicalism on the rise among Pakistani elite | world | Hindustan Times
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NY plot shows radicalism on the rise among Pakistani elite

world Updated: May 24, 2010 01:22 IST

A crescendo of violence has steadily cramped the lifestyles of well-heeled Pakistanis and expatriates in this tidy city by targeting elite hotels and eateries. Now militancy may have infiltrated one remaining social reserve of those groups: private, canape-laden parties in manicured compounds

A Pakistani intelligence official said on Saturday that the US-educated co-owner of a catering firm to swanky events, including US Embassy functions, might have given money to the suspect in the Times Square bomb plot and have been asked to aid attacks on diplomats’ gatherings.

Salman Ashraf Khan, 35, is among several detained in a widening Pakistani probe into the attempted bombing in New York that has netted a former army major, a computer salesman and other professionals.

Khan's suspected involvement prompted the embassy to warn Americans to avoid the catering company. The arrests added to evidence that the terrorism threat in Pakistan emanates not just from cave-dwelling radicals but also from the Western-oriented upper crust.

"It's not just an individual pulling strings," a Western official said on the condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue. "There are an awful lot of people connected."

The precise ties between those detained in Pakistan and Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani American accused of the New York bomb attempt, have not been established, and the intelligence official said none had confessed to roles in the bomb plot. But Khan and at least two of them knew Shahzad — a product of Pakistan's urban elite — and all had lambasted "anti-Muslim" US policies during interrogations, the official said.

In the US, investigations of Shahzad, an American citizen, and other terrorism suspects have prompted concern about extremism among "assimilated" middle-class Muslims. Muhammad Amir Rana, a terrorism researcher in Islamabad, said his recent surveys indicate that radicalisation is rising among privileged Pakistani youth, who relate neither to the West nor to Pakistan's impoverished masses. "They feel alienated," said Rana, director of the Pak Institute for Peace Studies, who added that such feelings have rarely led to violence. "So they try to identify themselves through religion."

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