Washington: Pakistani officials apparently had knowledge of the illicit money transfer to Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad, who last year unsuccessfully tried to blow a car at a busy site in the heart of New York, a key US Senator has said.
"Apparently a major source (of funding for Shahzad) was in Pakistan, possibly with the complicity of the financial institutions there, possibly with the knowledge of officials in Pakistan," Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal said at a Congressional hearing on terrorism financing.
However, a key FBI official, who testified before the Senate Committee that a major source of Shahzad`s funding was from Pakistan, refrained from confirming that Pakistani officials knew about it and said that the issue could be best discussed in a closed-door setting.
Appearing before the Senate sub-committee, Ralph Boelter, Acting Assistant Director, Counter-terrorism Division of FBI, said in August 2011 a man named Mohammad Younis pleaded guilty to operating an unlicensed money transmitting business in New York.
"Faisal Shahzad, who attempted to detonate a car bomb in Times Square, received money from Younis, which he used to fund his preparations for the attempted bombing. Younis received the money through his unlicenced money transmitting business from a co-conspirator in Pakistan. Shahzad advised that the funding was arranged in Pakistan by associates of the Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP)," Boelter said.
Senator Blumenthal asked if Boelter could comment on what information has been developed about the Pakistanis` involvement in financing terrorist organisations and what steps can be taken to combat it.
Boelter urged that the issue be discussed in a different setting.
"I would just say generally that one of our great challenges is a lack of visibility in the financial institutions and entities overseas. And that is a challenge, I wouldn`t limit that to Pakistan, but globally.”
"With respect to this case in particular, I think I would defer, to talk to that in a more -- speak to that issue in ... a (different setting)," the FBI official said.
Boelter said last year the FBI had conducted terrorist financing investigations which led to the indictment of individuals for providing funding to the Pakistani-Taliban, al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) and al-Shabaab.
The al-Shabaab indictments involved a network which used teleconferences to raise funds and then remitted the money to the outfit`s terrorists in Somalia, he added.