Islamabad: Two men detained in Pakistan for alleged links to the attempted Times Square bombing have admitted playing a role in the botched attack and are unrepentant, with one angrily accusing interrogators of "siding with the infidels," a senior intelligence official said Saturday.
The pair are among six men officials say have been detained in Pakistan for alleged ties to Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American arrested in the United States two days after the failed May 1 attack in New York. Like Shahzad, the detainees are all members of their country`s urban elite, including several who were educated in the United States.
Details about the six were released late Friday, though officials have not said when they were detained. One is the co-owner of a swish catering company that the US Embassy said was suspected of ties to terrorist groups.
The intelligence official, part of the team questioning the men, cited the two suspects as saying they did not do anything wrong and "proudly" describing Shahzad as their friend.
The official said one of the suspects had even accused his interrogators of "siding with the infidels."
One of the suspects, identified as Shoaib Mughal, is alleged to be a go-between for Shahzad and Pakistani Taliban in their hide-outs close the Afghan border. He was running a large computer dealership in Islamabad before his detention, said the intelligence official who — like most operatives in spy agencies around the world — did not give his name.
The other suspect, identified only by his first name Shahid, is alleged to have helped arrange money for Shahzad. He has an MBA from the US and apparently knew Shahzad from his time there.
The other four suspects have also expressed their hatred for the West and the US, but have not admitted any links with Shahzad, the official said.
None of the men has been charged, though in Pakistan that sometimes does not happen for months, if not years, particularly if detainees are held by an intelligence agency.
Pakistani intelligence cooperates closely with the CIA, which is often given access to detainees.
Shahzad is accused of leaving an SUV rigged with a homemade car bomb in New York`s Times Square on May 1 that failed to explode. The 30-year-old was born in Pakistan and moved to the United States when he was 18. The son of a former air force officer, he led a privileged life. He has family roots in the northwestern city of Peshawar and grew up in at least one other city, Karachi, relatives and officials have said.
Shahzad claimed during a long interrogation that he received financial support from the Pakistani Taliban, two U.S. law enforcement officials close to the probe said Friday, speaking on condition of anonymity because the investigation has not been completed.
Investigators believe his US funding was channeled through an underground money transfer network known as "hawala," the officials said. But, one official said "there`s a belief that no one in the US who got him the funds was aware of what they were for."
He was the only person in the United States who was "operational" in the plot, the official said.