No Army officer held for Times Square plot: Pak

Faisal Shahzad has been arrested for attempted Times Square car bombing.

Updated: May 21, 2010, 09:24 AM IST

Islamabad: No Pakistani Army officer has been held for involvement in the attempted Times Square car bombing for which Pakistani American Faisal Shahzad has been arrested, the military said on Thursday.

“No Pakistan Army officer has been arrested for having links” with Shahzad, Online news agency quoted Inter—Services Public Relations chief Maj Gen Athar Abbas as saying.

“Western media reports in this regard are baseless concocted and devoid of facts,” he said, adding: “There is no truth to such news and no Army officer, retired or in service, has been taken into custody for links with Faisal Shahzad.”

He clarified that last month, a retired major was sacked and arrested for violating discipline but he has no link with the Shahzad case.

The Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday that investigators had arrested a Pakistani Army major linked to Shahzad.

Maj Gen Abbas’ remarks come a day after Pakistan and the US on Wednesday pledged to enhance cooperation to foil future terrorist attacks as senior US officials briefed Pakistan’s political and military troika on the probe into the Times Square attempt.

US National Security Advisor James Jones and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) chief Leon Panetta met Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Army chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and “provided an update on the ongoing investigation into the Times Square terrorist incident”, a joint statement issued from the presidency said.

“The talks covered measures that both countries are, and will be, taking to confront the common threat we face from extremists and prevent such potential attacks from occurring again,” the statement added.

On Tuesday, Shahzad was arraigned before a federal magistrate in Manhattan on five felony counts two weeks after his arrest.

Appearing before Magistrate Judge James C Francis IV on Tuesday evening, Shahzad, 30, did not enter a plea, simply answering “yes” when the judge asked whether an affidavit attesting to his finances was accurate.

He was then charged with one count each of attempting terrorism by attempting to kill people; attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction; using a destructive device in connection with an attempted crime of violence; transporting explosives; and attempting to destroy property with fire and explosives. Attempted terrorism carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.

Shahzad, a Pakistani immigrant who lived in Connecticut and had worked as a financial analyst, was taken into custody on May 03 as he tried to flee to his native Pakistan on a flight out of John F Kennedy International Airport minutes before the plane was to leave for Dubai.

Prosecutors said he had left a Nissan Pathfinder rigged with makeshift, defective explosives in Times Square on May 01. The suspect who has been kept in an undisclosed location since he was taken into custody immediately began cooperating with federal investigators.

Three other Pakistanis were taken into custody in New England after a series of raids last week, and three others were arrested in Pakistan. None face criminal charges in connection with the plot.