Times Square bomber met Pak Taliban chief: Pak

Last Updated: Monday, July 26, 2010 - 20:55

Peshawar: Pakistani-American Faisal
Shahzad, who pleaded guilty to a botched car bomb attack in
New York, visited Pakistan seven times and met local Taliban
chief Hakimullah Mehsud, the interior minister said on Monday.

"He (Shahzad) visited Pakistan seven times in the last
few years and he met Hakimullah Mehsud and also met other
people, (including) leaders of the Taliban," Rahman Malik told
reporters in Pabbi town in the country`s northwest.

The acknowledgement came just days after the emergence
of a video that showed 30-year-old Shahzad, son of a retired
air vice marshal, shaking hands with and hugging Mehsud, the
chief of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan.

Mehsud had claimed responsibility for the failed car
bombing in New York on behalf of the Taliban and warned that
his group would carry out more such attacks.

Shahzad pleaded guilty to the bomb plot in a New York
court last month and warned of more attacks on the US.

Pakistani security and intelligence agencies have
detained several persons, including former army officers, for
alleged links with the Pakistan-born Shahzad.

Interior Minister Malik sought to distance Pakistan
from Shahzad, saying he is an American national and the US
administration should try him in accordance with its laws.

"We accept he is of Pakistani origin but all his
actions in America should also be investigated," Malik said.

Documents filed in court by US investigators have
said that Shahzad admitted that he was trained in bomb-making
during a 40-day stay with the Pakistani Taliban between
December 2009 and January this year.

Malik said Shahzad`s case should be seen in its
"greater perspective" as it is a matter of mindset.

"The Taliban are trying to change the mindset of
present and future generations and we have to fight against
this," he said.

The Taliban have proved that they are not Muslims
because they are targeting innocent people, which is not an
act that would be committed by any persons of faith, Malik
said.

The targeting of innocents, including the relatives
of government functionaries, has proved that the militants are
infidels, he said.

Malik also said the Pakistan government has
complained to its Afghan counterpart about the infiltration of
militants into the country from Afghanistan`s Nuristan
province.

Pakistan has suggested that the Afghan government
should seal the border in that area or enhance troop
deployments to curb the infiltration, he said.

Referring to reforms of religious seminaries, Malik
said authorities have registered about 18,000 of the country`s
24,000 madrassas.

Action is also being taken against banned sectarian
groups, including the Laskhar-e-Janghvi and Sipah-e-Sahaba, he
said.

PTI



First Published: Monday, July 26, 2010 - 20:55

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