Four Alleged Al-Qaida Militants Questioned In NYC Bomb Case

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United States and Pakistani officials involved in the investigation of terrorist bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad are questioning four alleged members of a militant group with links to al-Qaida.

Shahzad, whom authorities believe is the man behind a failed car bomb in New York City’s Times Square earlier this month, recently spent five months in Pakistan. Authorities are trying to determine whether the 30-year-old may have met with members of al-Qaida or other Islamist terror groups to receive instructions, training or funding.

The Pakistani-American was arrested on earlier this month as he tried to board a Dubai-bound flight out of New York. He is alleged to have driven an SUV—loaded with enough gasoline, propane and firecrackers to create a sizable fireball, had it successfully exploded—into the busy Times Square district of that city. He is also believed to have parked a getaway car several blocks away, although after abandoning the potential car bomb Shahzad is said to have realized that he left the getaway car’s keys at home, and had to take public transportation.

Officials say that Shahzad, who lived in Pakistan until he was 18, may have traveled with a man named Mohammad Rehan to Peshawar, on the Afghan border. Rehan is one of four alleged members of the militant organization Jaish-e-Mohammed who are currently being detained by Pakinstani officials.

Jaish-e-Mohammed was initially established by Pakistani intelligence agencies and used to fight in parts of the Kashmir region that were occupied by Indian forces. It has since been linked to al-Qaida, and its members have been linked to several high-profile crimes, including a 2002 bombing in Karachi that killed 11 French engineers, and the killing of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, also in Karachi, that same year.

Police have recovered surveillance video of Shahzad both in Times Square shortly after the attack, and in Pennsylvania buying fireworks. They have also confirmed that he bought a Kel-Tec rifle from a dealer, and a vehicle from Craigslist, in the days leading up to the incident. Shahzad, who has been cooperating with investigators, also allegedly said that he has spent time in Waziristan, a stronghold for al-Qaida and Pakistani Taliban militants.

U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said that Shahzad has given investigators “useful information” and that his questioning by federal agents is “ongoing.”

“We will continue to pursue a number of leads as we gather intelligence related to this attempted attack,” said Holder before a Senate appropriations subcommittee.

 

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