'Pakistan to Probe Links Between Faisal and Taliban'

Rezaul H Laskar/Islamabad
'Pakistan to Probe Links Between Faisal and Taliban'
Pakistan will probe alleged links between Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistan-American arrested for the botched car bomb attack in New York, and Taliban leaders based in the country's volatile tribal belt, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said today.

The US today formally requested Pakistan's cooperation in investigations into Shahzad's alleged links with militants in the tribal areas, Malik told reporters during an interaction at his residence.

However, Malik contended it would be premature to link the incident in New York with the Waziristan tribal region in northwest Pakistan.

"We will investigate the reports of Faisal Shahzad's visit to Waziristan," he said.

The US provided some details about the charges against Shahzad in its formal request for cooperation, Malik said.

"They think that Shahzad has been visiting South Waziristan and meeting (Taliban commanders) Qari Hussain and Hakimullah Mehsud. But it all needs confirmation," he said.

Hakimullah is the head of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan while Hussain is considered the trainer of suicide bombers.

A complaint filed in a US court by the FBI said Shahzad, the 30-year-old son of a former air force officer, had received bomb-making training in Waziristan.

Malik made it clear that only Pakistani agencies will investigate the matter and no foreign team will be allowed to come to the country for this purpose.

"It is the prerogative of Pakistani intelligence agencies to investigate the alleged links of Faisal Shahzad with the Taliban and we will do that investigation in a transparent manner," he said.

He denied reports in a section of the media that a FBI team was in Islamabad to investigate Shahzad’s links with terrorists in the tribal areas.

Malik's comments came hours after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned Pakistan that it would face "very severe consequences" if any other terrorist attack is traced back to the country.

The Los Angeles Times has reported that Shahzad's family knew at least two key Pakistani militants involved in terrorist activities.

Reports have said US and Pakistani investigators have questioned Shahzad's relatives and associates and four members of the banned Jaish-e-Mohammed.
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