US doesn`t rule out Headley-Shahzad link

The US is looking into whom did Shahzad meet in Pakistan, and what support, if any, was provided.

Updated: May 08, 2010, 20:25 PM IST

Washington: The United States has not ruled out a connection between two Pakistani Americans, key Mumbai terror plotter David Coleman Headley and failed Times square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad, as it probes all angles of the case.

"Well, it could be - there have been multiple plots that have involved the United States and Pakistan, citizens on both sides who have chosen to take these actions," a State Department spokesman said on Friday when asked if there was any connection between the two cases.

"I`m not aware that there`s any specific connection, but clearly, we are looking to see, while this individual was in Pakistan, who he met with, what support, if any, was provided," spokesman Philip J Crowley told reporters.

"And that is the reason why we are working so closely with Pakistan on this investigation."

Asked whether the US was in touch with India about the Times Square incident, Crowley noted the two countries have a regular dialogue on counter-terrorism issues, but could not say at this point if there was an Indian link.

"I mean, we have regular dialogue with India, including on counter-terrorism issues," he said. "I can`t say at this point there`s an Indian link to this case, but we do have dialogue with India on a regular basis on terrorism issues."

Earlier, ABC News citing unnamed sources traced Shahzad`s links to another Pakistani militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad and suggested he was a childhood friend of one of the alleged masterminds of the 2008 Mumbai massacre.

However, the television network did not identify the Pakistani mastermind.

The Pakistani Taliban are denying any role in the failed car bombing, but have praised Shahzad for a "brave job done", ABC said noting the suspected bomber was also in contact with former Tehreek-e-Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud who was killed in a US missile strike in 2009.

"The Mehsuds had been family friends of Shahzad, who is a son of a former high ranking Pakistani military officer," ABC News said quoting Pakistani sources.

Shahzad was reported to be in touch with a man named Mohammad Rehan, a suspected Jaish militant who helped him to travel to Peshawar and then to Waziristan and introduced him to Taliban.

Pak to probe Shahzad’s Taliban links

Pakistan will probe alleged
links between Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistan-American arrested
for the botched car bomb attack in New York, and Taliban
leaders based in the country`s volatile tribal belt, Interior
Minister Rehman Malik said today.

The US today formally requested Pakistan`s
cooperation in investigations into Shahzad`s alleged links
with militants in the tribal areas, Malik told reporters
during an interaction at his residence.

However, Malik contended it would be premature to
link the incident in New York with the Waziristan tribal
region in northwest Pakistan.

"We will investigate the reports of Faisal Shahzad`s
visit to Waziristan," he said.

The US provided some details about the charges
against Shahzad in its formal request for cooperation, Malik
said.

"They think that Shahzad has been visiting South
Waziristan and meeting (Taliban commanders) Qari Hussain and
Hakimullah Mehsud. But it all needs confirmation," he said.

Hakimullah is the head of the Tehrik-e-Taliban
Pakistan while Hussain is considered the trainer of suicide
bombers.

A complaint filed in a US court by the FBI said
Shahzad, the 30-year-old son of a former air force officer,
had received bomb-making training in Waziristan.

Malik made it clear that only Pakistani agencies will
investigate the matter and no foreign team will be allowed to
come to the country for this purpose.

"It is the prerogative of Pakistani intelligence
agencies to investigate the alleged links of Faisal Shahzad
with the Taliban and we will do that investigation in a
transparent manner," he said.

He denied reports in a section of the media that a
FBI team was in Islamabad to investigate Shahzad’s links with
terrorists in the tribal areas.

Malik`s comments came hours after US Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton warned Pakistan that it would face "very
severe consequences" if any other terrorist attack is traced
back to the country.

The Los Angeles Times has reported that Shahzad`s
family knew at least two key Pakistani militants involved in
terrorist activities.

Reports have said US and Pakistani investigators have
questioned Shahzad`s relatives and associates and four members
of the banned Jaish-e-Mohammed.

PTI