NY bomb suspect probed for links abroad

NY bomb suspect probed for links abroad

New York: Investigators questioned the suspected Times Square bomber hoping to uncover links he might have had to foreign militant groups and US media said he could appear in a New York court on Wednesday.

Faisal Shahzad, 30, who was born in Pakistan and became a US citizen last year, is accused of trying to kill and maim people with a car bomb in the heart of Manhattan on Saturday night. He faces life in prison if convicted.

Prosecutors say Shahzad, the son of a retired Pakistani vice air marshal, drove a crude homemade bomb of gasoline, propane gas, fireworks and fertilizer into Times Square and fled. Authorities defused the bomb and later captured Shahzad.

CBS News said he would appear in New York federal court on Wednesday.

New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly said late on Tuesday that Shahzad admitted trying to set off the bomb and training in a Taliban and al Qaeda stronghold in Pakistan.

“He’s giving us significant information," Kelly told a New York television station. “We want to learn as much as we can about him, we want to learn about the training, who gave the training, where did it happen."

Removed from plane

Shahzad was taken off an Emirates plane that was about to depart for Dubai late on Monday.

An Emirates spokesman said on Wednesday that Shahzad’s final destination was Islamabad. Several of Shahzad’s relatives were arrested in Pakistan hours after he was removed from the plane, security sources said.

Kelly said it was the 11th thwarted attack on New York City since hijacked airliners destroyed the World Trade Center’s twin towers on September 11, 2001 killing more than 2,600 people.

President Barack Obama said the investigation would seek to determine whether Shahzad had any connection with foreign extremist groups.

The Taliban in Pakistan on Sunday claimed responsibility for the attempted bombing, saying it was planned to avenge the killing in April of al Qaeda’s two top leaders in Iraq as well as US involvement in Muslim countries.

While some US officials were skeptical about the claim, Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi told CBS News he believed the failed attack was a retaliation for the United States targeting Taliban followers.

“This is a blow back. This is a reaction. This is retaliation," he said. “Let’s not be naive. They’re not going to sort of sit and welcome you to eliminate them. They’re going to fight back. And we have to be ready for this fight."

If links are found between the attempted bombing and Pakistan’s Taliban, Islamabad could come under renewed U.S. pressure to open risky new fronts against Islamic militants.

Acted alone?

Shahzad told authorities he acted alone, but officials said he had spent five months in Pakistan of late and Kelly said Shahzad had a wife and two children living in Peshawar.

The United States and Pakistan will try to trace Shahzad’s path to Times Square, determine how he ended up in a militant training camp in Pakistan and which group influenced him, in hopes of preventing future attacks.

Shahzad, a former financial analyst who worked in the U.S. state of Connecticut, is the son of a retired vice air marshal, affording him a special status in Pakistan, where the military is the most powerful and influential institution.

Security officials said Shahzad’s parents resided in Peshawar, the city hit hardest by Pakistani Taliban suicide bombings. They said Shahzad also has a residency identification card from commercial hub Karachi.

Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik said Shahzad’s family “are on our radar."

“He is not from a radical or illiterate family. He is from an educated family. We are looking into how he got radicalized," he told Reuters.

JPMorgan Chase’s mortgage unit sued Shahzad in September last year to foreclose on his three bedroom home in Shelton, Connecticut, court documents and county records show.

The bomb was in a sports utility vehicle that prosecutors said Shahzad bought three weeks ago in Connecticut for $1,300.

Street vendors alerted police to the smoking vehicle that had been parked with the engine running and the hazard lights on. Thousands of people were evacuated from Times Square.