US federal investigators on Tuesday focused on the possible involvement of the Pakistani Taliban in the failed Times Square bombing. Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old US citizen arrested late Monday, admitted his involvement in the plot, and told FBI agents he received bombmaking training in a region of Pakistan known as a militant hotbed.
Pakistani authorities have arrested several people in the southern port city of Karachi in connection with the Times Square plot. However, these arrest seem to indicate the involvement of the terrorist group Jaish e Mohammad (JeM).
Four JeM men have been picked up by intelligence agencies in Karachi. They are being question by a joint Pakistan-American team.
Shahzad’s confession, combined with a series of phone calls he received from Pakistan after purchasing the SUV used in the attempted bombing, is merging with increasing evidence of a Pakistani militant connection to the Times Square bombing.
According to the US criminal complaint filed in court, Shahzad admitted “after his arrest that he had received bomb-making training in Waziristan, Pakistan.” The alleged visit to Al-Qaeda and Taliban stronghold presumably occurred during a five-month trip the complaint says Shahzad made to Pakistan.
He returned on February 3 without his wife and told immigration officials that he had been visiting his parents, the complaint said.
The Reuters agency quoted sources as saying the camp that Shahzad trained at was run by a Jaish-e-Mohammad commander named Tariq Afridi and Afghan Taliban leader, Hafez Gul Bahadur, recently captured in a US-Pakistani security operation.
However, Pakistani Taliban claims of responsibility for Saturday night’s attempt, which investigators had played down, are being reevaluated, said a US official, who added that Al-Qaeda involvement “is a leap at this point.”
The Pakistani army dismissed the likelihood of a Pakistan Taliban role. Major General Athar Abbas said,”I don’t think they now have the ability to attack targets in America or anywhere else in the world”. Islamabad is reportedly worried at increased US pressure on them to increase military action in the tribal areas.
US law enforcement officials said Shahzad had attracted no significant law enforcement attention before the attempted bombing. “He was not on the radar,” one official said.
The New York Post reported that in his confession, Shahzad he had been motivated by the drone attacks being carried out by the US against terrorist targets along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border and the civilian casualties this was causing.
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