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May 7th, 2010

Pressure on Pakistan Amid Fresh Terror Links

U.S. officials have suggested Taliban had role in Times Square bomb plot

Image: Supporters of the youth wing of the Pakistani religious party Jamat-e-Islami rally to support Faisal Shahzad
Supporters of the youth wing of the Pakistani religious party Jamat-e-Islami rally to support Faisal Shahzad, the suspect accused of the failed Times Square car bombing, in Karachi, Pakistan, on Thursday, May 6, 2010. (Photo credit: Shakil Adil / AP)

By Chris Brummitt

May 7, 2010

ISLAMABAD — Alleged links between the Times Square plot and extremist networks are adding to perceptions of Pakistan as a global exporter of terror and increasing pressure on its military to crack down on extremists along the Afghan border. …

Pakistan has promised to cooperate with the investigation and has detained at least four people with alleged connections to the sole suspect so far — Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old Pakistani-American who has reportedly told U.S. investigators he had visited Waziristan, a largely militant-controlled region close to Afghanistan.

American officials have been quoted as saying they believe the Pakistani Taliban, which is based in Waziristan and has hitherto attacked Pakistani targets — not the U.S. homeland — had a role in the plot, either in funding or motivating and training.

Successive failed plots in Europe and the United States since the 9/11 attacks have been traced back to the border region, many involving first- or second-generation Pakistani or other Muslim immigrants to the West.

Shahzad evidently visited Pakistan and had family and friends here, but many questions remain about the extent of his militant links in the country and whether they — rather than his experiences in America — were the major factor in his transformation from suburban respectability to alleged terrorist.

Many experts doubt a significant role for the Pakistani Taliban, noting the amateurish nature of the bomb as well as the group’s past practice of claiming responsibility for attacks in the United States it had nothing to do with.

Still, the reported connections are already proving uncomfortable for Pakistan’s military, which has been resisting calls to move forcefully into all parts of Waziristan because it does not want to antagonize powerful militant groups there that have so far attacked only targets in Afghanistan, not Pakistani cities. …

The U.S. recognizes that Pakistan will likely have a major role in negotiating with elements of the Taliban to end the war in Afghanistan and ensuring stability — and a pro-American government — there when the United States finally withdraws. …


Alleged Times Square bomber an unusual suspect (NBC Nightly News, May 5, 2010) – Faisel Shahzad, the Pakistan-born American citizen arrested in connection with an attempted car bombing in New York’s Times Square, comes from one of Pakistan’s most elite military families and has not been known to have expressed extremist, religious views. NBC’s Richard Engel reports. (00:32)


53 hours to Times Square bomb plot arrest (NBC Nightly News, May 4, 2010) — The trail of evidence that led to the arrest of Faisal Shahzad. (04:10)


Related report

Pakistan Taliban Source: Times Square Bombing Attempt Was ‘Revenge Against America’

By Sami Yousafzai and Ron Moreau
Newsweek logo Declassified
May 6, 2010


A top Afghan Taliban planner and organizer tells NEWSWEEK he wasn’t surprised by the attempted car bombing in Times Square. “We were expecting this,” says the source, who operates on both sides of the porous Afghanistan-Pakistan border. He says the Pakistani Taliban — formally known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban — was hellbent on revenge after the Predator drone attack that killed its leader, Baitullah Mehsud, last August and the more recent strikes that nearly killed Baitullah’s successor, Hakimullah Mehsud, this January.

“They were desperately looking for revenge against America inside America,” says the source, who declined to be identified by name for security reasons.

Hakimullah went deep underground immediately after the Hellfire missile attack in January, disappearing so completely that even his fellow militants thought he was dead. According to the senior Afghan source, he vanished not only for his own safety but also because he wanted to come back with a bang: “Hakimullah wanted to announce his return with a successful bombing in America.”

And sure enough, the same weekend Faisal Shahzad parked his potentially lethal SUV on Times Square, Hakimullah suddenly reappeared in an Internet video, announcing he was “alive and healthy.” Shortly afterward a second video surfaced showing a still picture of Hakimullah standing next to a map of the U.S. marked with red symbols denoting explosions, over an audio track saying: “Good news will be heard within some days or weeks. … The time is very near when our fedayeen [fighters] will attack the American states in the major cities.” …


Related reports on this site

Image: File photo of Pakistan Taliban commander Hakimullah Mehsud with his arm around then-Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud
Militant commander Hakimullah Mehsud is seen with his arm around then-Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud during a news conference in South Waziristan in May 2008. Baitullah Mehsud reportedly died in a U.S. drone attack in August 2009. (Photo credit: Stringer — Pakistan / Reuters)

White House Attack Will ‘Amaze’ (March 31, 2009)

Taliban Leader Vows Revenge (Oct. 5, 2009)

Al-Qaida’s Next High-Value Target (Jan. 18, 2010)

Bomb Scare in Times Square (May 1, 2010)

Times Square Bomb Plot Suspects (May 2, 2010)

New York Bomb Suspect Arrested (May 3, 2010)


FROM THE ARCHIVES: One Year Ago — May 7, 2009


Image: Bombing in Baghdad, Iraq
A man stands amid vehicles destroyed in a explosion in Baghdad, Iraq, on Wednesday, May 6, 2009. (Photo credit: Loay Hameed / AP)

Sharp Increase in Iraq Violence

One-year retrospective: One year ago today, I reported that a spate of bombings in Iraq raised concern that militants were regrouping after suffering sharp setbacks in fighting during the previous two years, 2007-2008.

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  7. Immelman for Congress » Blog Archive » Taliban Leader Hakimullah Mehsud Vows Revenge Says:

    […] The Pakistani Taliban is linked to attacks against U.S. targets. They trained the Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad who tried to detonate a car bomb in New York City’s Times Square in 2010 and is tied to a suicide bombing that killed seven CIA agents at an Afghan base in 2009. […]

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