Pakistan’s interior minister said Friday he believed the Times Square bombing suspect did not act alone, but he had seen no evidence suggesting the Pakistan Taliban were involved.
Authorities in Pakistan and the U.S. are trying to trace the movements of 30-year-old Faisal Shahzad during his recent five-month stay in Pakistan. They are seeking to establish whether he connected with any of the myriad Islamic terrorist groups operating in the country and if he received instructions, funding or training.
“All those leads, suggesting it was his own action, I will not accept that. I’d like to see details,” Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik told reporters in Beijing, where he is on an official visit.
“Obviously, he had bought a vehicle filled with explosives. It looks a bit difficult (to say) that he’s (working) alone,” he added.
The Pakistani Taliban — which has hitherto not attacked the American homeland — initially claimed responsibility for the failed car bombing last Saturday but has since said they had no role in it.
The reasons for backpedaling were unclear. It’s possible a faction of the group had links with Shahzad, or it is seeking to avoid a possible military offensive in its stronghold in North Waziristan by distancing itself from the act. Previous campaigns have driven the militants from other redoubts in the country’s northwest.
Referring to the Taliban’s earlier claim, Malik said the militants “were liars,” and if Shahzad had hooked up with the group then evidence “would be available.”
Pakistan security officials have said they detained and are questioning four alleged members of an al-Qaida-linked militant group for possible connections to Shahzad, who is a Pakistani-American. He grew up in the South Asian country, and left for the U.S. at the age of 18.
Shahzad faces terrorism and weapons charges in New York after authorities said he admitted rigging a sport utility vehicle with a crude bomb of firecrackers, propane and gasoline based on explosives training he received in Pakistan. U.S. authorities said they have yet to establish a firm link between Shahzad and an extremist group.