Pakistan doubts Taliban Times Square claim
(AP) - Pakistan's army does not believe the Pakistani Taliban were behind the Times Square bomb attempt as the insurgent group has claimed, a military spokesman said Wednesday.
Relatives and friends of the Pakistani-American arrested in NewYork over the plot expressed surprise at his alleged involvement,saying he came from a respected family in a conservative part ofthe country and had previously shown no signs of militancy.
Faisal Shahzad, who grew up in Pakistan but left for America atthe age of 18, is accused of trying to detonate a car bomb in TimesSquare on Saturday evening. The 30-year-old, who was arrestedMonday night in New York, has allegedly told investigators hereceived explosives training in Waziristan, a stronghold of thePakistani Taliban.
In a video message on Sunday, the Pakistani Taliban said itcarried out the attack, in what would be its first known strikeoutside South Asia. U.S. officials quickly doubted the claim, butShahzad's arrest and alleged trip to Waziristan have given itcredence.
Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, the military's chief spokesman, said theclaim should be "taken with a pinch of salt."
The attack may increase pressure on the Pakistani army to launcha new offensive in the northern part of Waziristan, something ithas been avoiding until now. U.S. and European officials have longsaid that many of the terror plots in the West are hatched in theregion.
Abbas declined to comment on reports Shahzad had been toWaziristan.
Pakistan intelligence officials say they have detained severalpeople for questioning since Shahzad's arrest, but it is unclear ifany are believed to have involvement in the plot. One officer saidtoday that one of detainees had been arrested from a mosque inKarachi, the country's largest city where Shahzad is believed tohave spent time on his most recent trip to Pakistan last year.
The detainee, who was not identified, has told investigators hetraveled to Peshawar, the main city in the northwest, with Shahzad,said the officer, who asked not to be identified because he was notauthorized to speak to the media.
Pakistan makes arrests over Times Square bomb