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Pakistani Man Claims He aided Shahzad

From a seemingly shocked Washington Post:

Azam Tariq, (C) spokesman for the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), is flanked by his guards at an undisclosed location in South Waziristan in November 2009.

Pakistan arrests man with militant ties who says he aided Times Square bomb suspect

By Greg Miller
Friday, May 13, 2010; A01

The Pakistani government has arrested a suspect with connections to a Pakistani militant group who said he acted as an accomplice to the man accused of trying to bomb Times Square, U.S. officials said.

The suspect, whose arrest has not been previously disclosed, provided an "independent stream" of evidence that the Pakistani Taliban were behind the attempt and has admitted helping Faisal Shahzad, the main suspect, travel into Pakistan’s tribal belt for bomb training.

Officials familiar with the investigation cautioned about inconsistencies in the two suspects’ accounts. Federal authorities expanded their search for evidence Thursday, carrying out raids in four northeastern states, and arresting three people suspected of funneling money to Shahzad.

Still, the U.S. determination that the Pakistani Taliban directed the attempted attack is based largely on accounts given by the two men, several U.S. officials said. Authorities have been examining phone records, e-mail and other communication to see whether they contain firmer evidence of links between Shahzad and the Pakistani Taliban.

"What they said has been corroborated by other evidence,” said a senior law enforcement source, who would not specify that evidence, saying it is classified…

U.S. officials declined to identify the suspect in Pakistan, but said American investigators have had direct access to him, and described him as a facilitator for the Pakistani Taliban.

U.S. investigators have pieced together their understanding of the Times Square plot largely by comparing the man’s accounts with those of Shahzad. The broad outlines of their stories have been consistent, officials said, describing Shahzad’s arrival in Karachi last year and his travel north to Waziristan for training with elements of the Pakistani Taliban.

But a second U.S. official briefed on the progress of the case said there are some "conflicts, disconnects" in their accounts. The discrepancies center mainly on the details and chronology of Shahzad’s travel and training. Officials said the conflicts have raised some questions about the reliability of the suspects’ information, but have not cast significant doubt on the overall understanding of the plot.

U.S. officials said they also think Shahzad and the man may have exaggerated their accounts. Both said they met Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud while being brought into the organization’s inner core. But U.S. analysts are skeptical that Mehsud, who narrowly survived a Predator strike earlier this year, would risk meeting face-to-face with an unproved American recruit.

Perhaps we are growing cynical. But it almost sounds like the US officials don’t want it to turn out that Pakistanis were involved.

Although they acknowledged that the investigation is in its initial stages, Obama administration officials are describing an expansive Pakistani Taliban role. In a TV interview Sunday, Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. said that "they helped facilitate it . . . they helped direct it . . . and I suspect that we are going to come up with evidence that shows they helped finance it." …

Pakistani officials said Thursday that they detained for questioning five people from a mosque in Karachi affiliated with the extremist group Jaish-e-Muhammad. Shahzad, a U.S. citizen who made at least a dozen trips to Pakistan over the past decade, is thought to have visited the mosque during a long stay in the country this year.

Sources in the northwest tribal area said again that the Taliban was preparing to release a video but did not say whether they planned to claim any connection to Shahzad or the attempted bombing. The group originally said it carried out the plot but later said it had no link to Shahzad

Of course we won’t know for sure about this until the Pakistan Taliban decides whether or not to take credit for it.

This article was posted by Steve on Friday, May 14th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

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