Pak Taliban Behind Failed NY Bomb Attempt: USA

Lalit K Jha/Washington
Pak Taliban Behind Failed NY Bomb Attempt: USA
The United States of America today said it has evidence that the Pakistani Taliban was behind last week's failed attempt to detonate a car bomb at Times Square in New York and that terror suspect Faisal Shahzad was "working at their direction".

The evidence has given new direction to the fight against terrorism, as investigations into the Times Square incident has revealed that the Pakistani Taliban has the "aim" and "capability" in carrying out attacks against the United States.

"We've now developed evidence that shows that the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attack," US Attorney General Eric Holder told ABC television's Sunday current affairs talk show This Week.

"We know that they (Pakistani Taliban) helped facilitate it. We know that they probably helped finance it, and that he (Shahzad) was working at their direction," he said.

30-year-old Shahzad, a Pakistani who became a naturalised US citizen, was arrested on Monday last for attempting to detonate the car bomb in New York.

The FBI has said that Shahzad, son of a former Pakistani Air Force officer, has admitted to attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan's restive Waziristan tribal region.

"I think the investigation is proceeding at a good pace. We have developed, I think, a good amount of information in a relatively short period of time, but we will be continuing to work on it," Holder said.

US officials have been maintaining that Pakistani Taliban could be behind the failed attempt.

A video purportedly released by the Pakistani Taliban had claimed responsibility for the attacks, but the outfit rejected it immediately.

He said the Times Square incident has revealed that the Pakistani Taliban has both the aim and the capability to attack the US.

"I'm not sure that we didn't think they had that ability. We didn't think that necessarily was their aim. We certainly have seen with the Shahzad incident that they have not only the aim, but the capability of doing that.

And that's why they have taken on, I think, a new significance in our anti-terror fight," he said.

In a separate interview, President Barack Obama's Homeland and Counter-terrorism adviser John Brennan also said US authorities believe that the Pakistani Taliban was behind the failed attempt.

"It looks like he (Shahzad) was working on behalf of the TTP, the Pakistani Taliban," Brennan said. "This group is closely allied with Al Qaeda. This is something that we're taking very seriously."

Holder said there is nothing in the investigation which suggests that the Pakistani Government was aware of the Taliban efforts.

"We don't have any indication that the Pakistani government was aware of his plans or the attack that was planned by the Pakistani Taliban. We don't have any indication of that," he said.

"I can really say is that the investigation is ongoing and we are examining overseas connections that he might have, as well as any people he might have worked with here in the United States. But the investigation's ongoing in both those spheres," Holder said when asked if there was a cell that Shahzad was working at their direction.

He said the US is satisfied with the cooperation from Pakistan with regard to investigations in the Times Square accident.

"Well, in connection with the Shahzad investigation, they (Pakistan) had been (Cooperating), I think, extremely aggressive, they've been cooperative with us, and I think we have been satisfied with the work that they have done," he said.

"We want to make sure that kind of cooperation continues. To the extent that it does not, we will, as Secretary Clinton indicated, take the appropriate steps. But as of now, with regard to Shahzad, I think we're satisfied with the level of cooperation we've received," Holder said when asked about the remarks of Clinton on CBS news.

Responding to a question, Holder said it is difficult to keep track of all the people coming from Pakistan every year.

"It is a difficult job. We have to try to use the various intelligence sources that we have, try to look for telltale signs for who we should be concerned about," he said.

"The vast majority of people who go to Pakistan and come from Pakistan to the United States are well intentioned. They have relatives. They have cultural ties to both countries. So we have to really try to focus and make sure that our attention is directed at those people who would do our nation harm," the Attorney General said.

"I think the investigation is proceeding at a good pace. We have developed, I think, a good amount of information in a relatively short period of time, but we will be continuing to work on it," he said.

Holder conceded that here was a time when the FBI and law enforcement lost track of Shahzad after the attempted incident, before he got on the plane.

"Well, we lost contact with him for just a bit of time, but I think what people have to understand is that we had a layered approach so that at the end of the day I think we were always confident that he would be picked up, and the question was only where he would be picked up and when he would be picked up," he said.

"A surveillance was conducted, but we wanted to have him at a fairly good distance so that we could observe him and see if he would make contact with other people who were connected to the plot. Contact was lost for a relatively short period of time," Holder said.
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