Islamabad: Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said on Thursday he thought it unlikely that a Pakistani-American arrested over a failed plot to bomb New York`s Times Square had acted alone.
Investigations in Pakistan have uncovered possible links between Faisal Shahzad, 30, the Pakistani Taliban and a Kashmiri Islamist group, officials and news reports said.
"According to the available information he says it was his individual act," Malik told Reuters in an interview during a visit to Beijing. "I would not tend to believe that."
Pakistani security officials told Reuters that Shahzad, who is suspected of driving an explosives-laden SUV into Times Square on Saturday, was close to Jaish-e-Mohammad, a group fighting Indian forces in the disputed territory of Kashmir and which also has ties to al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban.
"The people who have been picked up do have links to Jaish and have also been in touch with Shahzad during his visits here," a Pakistani security official in Karachi told Reuters.
The official was referring to Mohammad Rehan, a friend of Shahzad, who was detained on Tuesday after leaving the Bat`ha Mosque in Karachi. Other associates, including Shahzad`s father-in-law, have also been detained in Karachi, according to CNN.
The mosque is said to have links to Jaish and neighbours tell of visits by its leaders.
US investigators are also taking a "hard look" at possible ties between Shahzad and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Taliban Movement of Pakistan, a US official said Wednesday.
"It is a known fact that the mosque (in Karachi) has been a recruiting ground for Jaish and many people have been sent to the tribal areas (home to the TTP) for training," a second Pakistani security official told Reuters.
The official said several men recruited through the mosque had fought against the military during recent offensives against the TTP.
"It may not be a surprise if the people associated with the mosque, or those who come here for recruitment, are linked with the TTP," he said.
The US official agreed. "TTP is entirely plausible but we`re not ruling out other groups," the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
If confirmed that the Taliban in Pakistan sponsored the attempted bombing in New York, as it claimed over the weekend, it would be the group`s first attack on US soil.