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Pakistan Taliban says did not train NY bomb suspect

world Updated: May 06, 2010 19:28 IST
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The main spokesman for Pakistan's Taliban said on Thursday the group neither trained nor recruited the Pakistani-American charged with terrorism over an attempted New York bombing.

"We don't even know him. We did not train him," Azam Tariq, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman, told two AFP reporters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

A video allegedly from the TTP claimed responsibility for the New York car bomb attempt. The credibility of that claim has been widely questioned.

The Taliban spokesman, whose voice was recognised by both the AFP reporters familiar with him, congratulated Faisal Shahzad
on the attempted bomb attack, but suggested he may have been trained by other militant factions.

"The job he has done was a tremendous one and we praised him for this job but the fact is that we even do not know Faisal," he said.

"He may be trained by any other militant group," the spokesman added.

"I deny this claim that Taliban were involved in this incident. This is a propaganda against us. If we are involved in something, we admit it."

Despite Tariq's claim, there are suggestions that TTP, originally an umbrella of nebulous cells, has become increasingly fragmented since a major Pakistani military offensive last year and in the wake of US drone attacks.

One theory touted by analysts is that Shahzad may have received limited training, but not been a full member of a militant faction.

According to the US criminal complaint, Shahzad admitted to receiving bomb-making training in Waziristan, a fortress of Taliban and Al-Qaeda-linked militants with increasingly overlapping associations and ideology.

Pakistani militant groups, principally TTP, but also Jaish-e-Mohammad and Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, have a presence in the area. It is also a hotbed of Afghan, Arab and Central Asian fighters.

The video purportedly from TTP claiming responsibility for Saturday night's car bomb attempt was posted on YouTube, instead of the password-protected websites where other Jihadist announcements are made.

Although US media said Thursday evidence was mounting that Pakistani Taliban were involved, Pakistan has been tight-lipped on details of enquiries, other than pledging full cooperation and strongly condemning the plot.

"So far no concrete evidence has yet linked him to any group in Pakistan," a senior security official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

One security official said the type of explosives planted in the Nissan SUV that Shahzad allegedly drove had Pakistani Taliban-style signatures, but that it was premature to say who he met and how he may have done it.