Washington: Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, arrested in connection with botched Times Square car bombing plot in New York, was trained by LeT in a terrorist camp in Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir to be infiltrated into the Indian side, a top commander of the terror group has said.
But, the 30-year-old son of a former Pakistani Air Vice Marshal wanted to go to Afghanistan to fight US troops.
Shahzad, financial analyst in Connecticut, visited Pakistan in mid-June 2006 to receive training at a camp belonging to LeT, according to the commander at LeT`s main base of operations in Dulai, a village 25 km south of Muzaffarabad, the capital of Pakistan-occupied Kashmir.
"Shahzad came to us for training... He stayed with us for three months and we provided him with the basics. Then he went back to the US," the commander was quoted as saying by the Canadian magazine Maclean which did not name him.
The LeT commander, however, denied his group had anything to do with the May 01 foiled attack in New York`s Times Square.
"We told him we wanted to send him to Kashmir to fight the Indian occupation. But he refused. He said he wanted to fight Americans and that Afghanistan is where he wanted to go. We were hesitant... But we told him, okay, do your training and we`ll see after that," he said.
"He wanted to do something big," the LeT commander said.
“For us, that was dangerous. We don`t want attention on us, and we were worried that Shahzad`s personal agenda would get him captured and bring the spotlight on us."
He said that Shahzad was brought to the LeT camp by another member of the organisation.
"He was an eager recruit... Very intelligent but also very intense, and driven to make his mark for the sake of Islam," he said.
Shahzad was arrested at John F Kennedy International Airport in New York, while he was trying to flee to Pakistan via Dubai.
The camp at Dulai, the group`s headquarters, was built a little over a year and a half ago after the previous headquarters were closed by the Pakistani Army, it said.
According to the LeT commander, Shahzad came to the old headquarters, and from there was taken to a camp further into the mountains for his basic training.
When that training was complete, he was instructed to return to the US and told not to make contact with the LeT for the next six months on the ground that he will be under watch by US authorities.
"After six months, we tried to contact him," said the commander, "but we received no response, not from e-mails or by telephone. We thought, well, okay, so maybe he`s had a change of heart... We have thousands of recruits who come to us for training. It doesn`t affect us if one of them is lost."