U.S. officials link Times Square attempt to Pakistan TalibanBy MICHAEL AMON AND TOM BRUNE
May 10, 2010
The Obama administration for the first time linked the Times Square bombing attempt to the Pakistani Taliban, as a senior official Sunday said that overseas terrorism groups were focused on enlisting U.S. residents to carry out attacks.
"Al-Qaida, the and other groups, are trying to take advantage of individuals who may have been able to come here to the United States . . . in some instances like
Mr. Shahzad acquire United States citizenship, and exploit them for their agendas," John Brennan, President Barack Obama's top counterterrorism adviser, said on CNN's "State of the Union."
"This is something we have to remain on guard against," he said.
The main suspect in the Times Square attempt, Faisal Shahzad, 30, is a naturalized United States citizen of Pakistani descent who came here more than a decade ago.
He was arrested last Monday on a plane leaving for Dubai, two days after a sport utility vehicle linked to him was found rigged to explode with propane, gasoline, fertilizer and firecrackers, in Times Square on a warm Saturday evening.
Brennan cited the cases of David Headley, a Chicago-born Pakistani-American accused of helping orchestrate the 2008 attack on Mumbai, and Najibullah Zazi, an Afghanistan citizen with legal permanent resident status who was accused in a plot against the New York City subway system.
Attorney General Eric Holder said, on ABC News' "This Week," that the Pakistani Taliban "helped facilitate" the botched bombing.
"We know that they probably helped finance it. And that [Shahzad] was working at their direction," Holder said.
Authorities initially said the bungled Times Square bombing appeared to be a "one-off" attempt by a "lone wolf."
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, in an interview broadcast last night on "60 Minutes," said the U.S. wants more cooperation from Pakistan's government to prevent attacks emanating from that country.
"We've made it very clear that if, heaven forbid, an attack like this that we can trace back to Pakistan were to have been successful, there would be very severe consequences," said Clinton, who added that the Pakistan government has been more cooperative recently.
Brennan said Shahzad, during a five-month trip to Pakistan that ended in February, was in contact with the Tariqi Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, an umbrella organization formed several years by the many groups that make up Pakistan's Taliban and operating out of the lawless tribal regions of North and South Waziristan. Shahzad has told investigators that he was trained in bomb-making in Waziristan, according to court records.
"The TTP . . . is dedicated to the same type of agenda that al-Qaida has, which is a murderous one, to kill innocent civilians," Brennan said.
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford) ranking member on the House Homeland Security Committee, said use of American citizens in terrorist plots helps conceal them from intelligence agencies, which he said appear to have had no warning of the Times Square attack. "These terrorists are not on the radar screen," King said.
Brennan said Shahzad was motivated by "this murderous rhetoric of al-Qaida and the TTP that looks at the United States as an enemy." He said overseas terrorists groups may recruit other U.S. citizens who can travel freely.
Shahzad is being held on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction charges. He has not been arraigned yet because he is providing valuable information in interviews, officials said.