Detainee says he aided bombing suspect

May 14, 2010 at 12:49 AM
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ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, May 14 (UPI) -- The probe into the attempted bombing of Times Square shifted again to Pakistan where a detained suspect said he aided the man charged in the New York incident.

The Washington Post, quoting U.S. officials, reported Friday Pakistani authorities had arrested a man believed linked to the Pakistani Taliban who admitted to being an accomplice of Faisal Shahzad, 30, the main suspect in the attempted May 1 bombing of Times Square. Shahzad, who lived in Connecticut, is a naturalized U.S. citizen of Pakistani origin.

The suspect arrested in Pakistan gave an "independent stream" of evidence on the role of the Pakistani Taliban in the bombing attempt which U.S. investigators have suspected after questioning Shahzad. The new suspect was not identified but U.S. authorities have access to him.

The Post quoted U.S. officials saying the Pakistani suspect also admitted to aiding Shahzad's travel to the tribal regions for explosives training.

Those familiar with the investigation, however, told the Post about some inconsistencies in the accounts of the two suspects.

Since the Times Square incident, Pakistani authorities have detained several other suspects.

Meanwhile, in the United States, authorities arrested three people during raids across the northeastern states. The three are suspected of providing financial resources to Shahzad, who was arrested at New York's Kennedy airport just prior to the departure of his flight to Dubai.

The new Pakistani suspect "is believed to have a connection to the TTP," said a U.S. intelligence official. TTP is Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, the local name of the Pakistani Taliban.

The official told the Post authorities are gaining an understanding of the plot through clues, adding "what is definitely true is that a lot of this comes from the statements of people directly involved."

The Post reported firmly establishing the Pakistani Taliban's role would mean adding another militant group to the growing list of al-Qaida affiliates that directly threaten the United States, which in turn could add to the pressures relating to U.S.-Pakistan relations.

As for Shahzad, Pakistani authorities said Thursday they still haven't found any credible evidence connecting him to any Islamic militant group or that he went to the tribal regions to be trained by Pakistani Taliban, the Post said.

In the case of the three arrested in the U.S. raids, The Times of London, quoting unnamed officials, reported they were held on immigration charges and are alleged to have provided funds to Shahzad through the so-called Hawala system of money transfer, which is difficult to trace. It was, however, not clear whether they were merely innocent money dealers or were actual accomplices of Shahzad.

The report said the third man was arrested on suspicion of immigration violations based on the interrogation of Shahzad.

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