NY Times Square bomb attempt

Discussion in 'China' started by ajtr, May 2, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    N.Y. bomb plot probe shows radicalism might be on the rise among Pakistani elite


    ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN -- A crescendo of violence has steadily cramped the lifestyles of well-heeled Pakistanis and expatriates in this tidy city by targeting elite hotels and eateries. Now militancy may have infiltrated one remaining social reserve of those groups: private, canapé-laden parties in manicured compounds. A Pakistani intelligence official said Saturday that the U.S.-educated co-owner of a catering firm to swanky events, including American Embassy functions, might have given money to the suspect in the Times Square bomb plot and been asked to aid attacks on diplomats' gatherings. Salman Ashraf Khan, 35, is among several detained in a widening Pakistani probe into the attempted bombing in New York that has netted a former army major, a computer salesman and other professionals.

    Khan's suspected involvement prompted the U.S. Embassy to warn Americans to avoid the catering company. The arrests added to evidence that the terrorism threat in Pakistan emanates not just from cave-dwelling radicals but also from the Western-oriented upper crust -- and that those groups might overlap.

    "It's not just an individual pulling strings," a Western official said on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the issue. "There are an awful lot of people connected."

    The precise ties between those recently detained in Pakistan and Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani American accused of the New York bomb attempt, have not been established, and the intelligence official said none had confessed to roles in the bomb plot. But Khan and at least two of them knew Shahzad -- a product of Pakistan's urban elite -- and all had lambasted "anti-Muslim" U.S. policies during interrogations, the official saidIn the United States, investigations of Shahzad, an American citizen, and other terrorism suspects have prompted concern about extremism among "assimilated" middle-class Muslims. Muhammad Amir Rana, a terrorism researcher in Islamabad, said his recent surveys indicate that radicalization is rising among privileged Pakistani youth, who relate neither to the West nor to Pakistan's impoverished masses.

    "They feel alienated," said Rana, director of the Pak Institute for Peace Studies, who added that such feelings have rarely led to violence. "So they try to identify themselves through religion."

    Combating Islamist radicalization is a focus of a new surge in U.S. aid money to Pakistan, where polls repeatedly reveal deep anti-Americanism.

    The Pakistani intelligence official said Khan and Shahzad were friends and probably met during Shahzad's trip to Pakistan earlier this year. Another man detained, Shoaib Mughal, owns a small computer-sales firm in Islamabad and is suspected of linking Shahzad with the Pakistani Taliban in the tribal areas. A third is Khan's business partner; the two provided food to the cafeteria of the headquarters of Mobilink, a cellphone company, according to Khan's father.

    The official said a former army major was also arrested on suspicions of links to the plot. But another senior intelligence officer, echoing military statements, said that arrest was unrelated to the Shahzad probe. The senior officer played down the Islamabad detentions, saying investigators were questioning and releasing many people.

    But the rare U.S. alert on Friday about terrorists' ties to Hanif Rajput Catering Services, Khan's firm, indicated that investigators were looking at him more seriously. The family business caters more than 200 events a month for military, government and diplomatic circles in the Islamabad area, and the intelligence official said militant organizations might have sought to "use" Khan for access to them.

    In an interview Saturday, Khan's father, Rana Ashraf Khan, called that idea "absurd." He said it was possible that his son, who graduated from the University of Houston in 2001, met Shahzad in the course of business. The elder Khan said his son was religious but displayed no extremist tendencies, nor did he have any connections to the Western regions populated by militants.

    He said his son, who lived at his parents' home with his wife, also had no relationship with Mughal, the computer shop owner whom the Pakistani intelligence official said was the key focus of investigators. Merchants near the shop, Infinix Quality Services, described Mughal as devout but gentlemanly.

    "He is a regular prayer-offering guy," said one business owner, who said he feared being quoted by name. "To me that doesn't suggest he is a militant."

    Salman Khan vanished on the morning of May 10, and his father said the embassy alert confirmed the family's suspicions that he had been picked up by security agencies. The father said Khan's business partner "disappeared" the same day.

    Rana Ashraf Khan said his son occasionally expressed a belief that American policies in Pakistan caused "suffering," but that he was "full of praise" about his five years in the United States and enjoyed Western movies.

    "We are educated people. Not extremists. Not fanatics," the elder Khan said of his five children, who include two physicians living in the United States. "There was nothing in Salman that could have tempted him to even be sympathetic to people bent on the destruction of the United States."
     
  2. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Where was Faisal Shahzad?

    BY RAZA KHAN, MAY 24, 2010 Monday, May 24, 2010 - 2:32 PM Share

    As the Los Angeles Times reports that failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad met Omar Khalid, the chief of the Pakistani Taliban in Mohmand, one of Pakistan's tribal regions, journalist Raza Khan profiles the militant chief and his faction.

    Omar Khalid, whose real name is Abdul Wali, is a resident of the town of Qandharo, and he belongs to the Qandhari section of the Safi tribe that lives in Mohmand. The Safis consider themselves to be part of the Mohmand tribe, but other Mohmands do not believe that the Safis have the same origins and generally consider them to be more religiously conservative than other sub-tribes. The region also has fewer Safis than other Mohmand sub-tribes. Most important, however, the Safis are considered by other Mohmand tribal members to be the last converts to Islam among the area's tribes.

    Khalid, who is now in his thirties, received his education in his village. As a youth, he worked with the banned Harakat-ul-Mujahidin, or Movement of Holy Warriors, a militant group dedicated to fighting Indian forces in Kashmir. During the 1990s, he traveled to Kashmir rather than join the Taliban in fighting the Northern Alliance in Afghanistan.[ii] His activities in Kashmir are unknown, possibly because militants use code names to operate across the border. Nonetheless, Khalid seems to have had stronger connections with Kashmiri jihadi groups than with the Taliban leadership in Afghanistan. He did, however, lead hundreds of his tribal fighters back to Afghanistan after 9/11 to fight beside the Taliban.[iii]

    Although Khalid's campaign is reminiscent of Sufi Muhammad's nearby movement, which was organized at the same time, Omar Khalid adroitly used the Lal Masjid episode in July 2007 to achieve his long-standing ambition to become a militant commander.[iv] At that time, he denied having any link to the Taliban or to al-Qaeda, but declared, "If [the Taliban] come to us, we will welcome them. We will continue Ghazi Abdur Rashid's [the Lal Masjid's imam] mission even if it means sacrificing our lives."[v]

    Khalid did not seize control of the Mohmand Taliban without a fight. He had to eliminate a rival faction led by a man named Shah Sahib.[vi] Shah Sahib was a Salafi associated with the mainstream political group Markaz-e-Jamiat-e-Ahl-e Hadith, which complained that Omar Khalid's Taliban faction sanctioned the intentional killing of civilians.[vii] Until the rise of Omar Khalid after the Lal Masjid incident, Shah Sahib's militant group was the largest in Mohmand and directed all of its energy into anti-U.S. and anti-NATO violence in Afghanistan. The group reportedly included at least some fighters from the Kashmiri jihadi group Lashkar-e-Taiba.

    Despite mediation by Ustad Yasir, a commander loyal to Mullah Omar's Quetta Shura, Omar Khalid attacked the Shah Sahib group repeatedly in 2008.[viii] Shah Sahib was killed in that fighting, which largely eliminated his organization as a composed fighting force.[ix] Occasional attempts to resurrect it have been unsuccessful.[x] Omar Khalid's elimination of Shah Sahib is notable because TTP amir Baitullah Mehsud opposed such clashes and was attempting to eliminate fighting between Taliban groups.[xi]

    Qari Shakeel and Asad Sayeed

    Omar Khalid's two most important sub-commanders are Qari Shakeel and Asad Sayeed. Qari Shakeel is from the Michini area of Mohmand, close to Peshawar, and he reportedly is a former criminal. Asad Sayeed, who earned a degree in medicine from Khyber Medical College in Peshawar, is a rigid ideologue who ascribes to al-Qaeda's takfiri ideology.[xii]

    Taliban Strength in Mohmand

    Omar Khalid claims that he has the backing of about 2,500 militants, but his forces seem to lack popular support in Mohmand.[xiii] Nonetheless, the lack of organized opposition has enabled Omar Khalid's group to grow more powerful. Omar Khalid has a significant presence throughout Mohmand, and it controls three of its seven tehsils: Khawezai-Baizai, Lakaro, and Ambar. These areas are remote, but Lakaro and Ambar are close to the Afghan border. Lakaro is also a stronghold for the Safi tribe and abuts Bajaur agency, another Taliban stronghold in the tribal areas.[xiv]

    The Taliban's assault on tribal groups has prompted a backlash from them, some of whom have formed lashkars (militias) to fight the insurgents. Although many lashkar leaders have been killed, this local resistance still has been more effective than Pakistani military operations.[xv] On August 17, 2009, for example, Mohmand lashkars captured Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Mullah Muhammad Umar, who joined Sufi Muhammad's group in 1994 and became the face of the TTP. Before his capture, Umar was in constant contact with the media to ensure that the Taliban got credit for conducting various large-scale attacks inside Pakistan.[xvi]

    Quetta Shura Taliban

    Mullah Omar remains an important point of inspiration for the militants in Mohmand, but they do not accept operational direction from the Taliban leader and use some controversial tactics frowned upon by Mullah Omar's Quetta Shura. Mohmand's militants often say that Mullah Omar is their supreme leader, and they clearly see themselves as part of a political and religious movement that he leads. Nonetheless, Mullah Omar does not have operational control over militants in Mohmand.[xvii] Indeed, the murderous attacks on civilians and beheadings employed by militants in Mohmand depart from the model set by the Quetta Shura.[xviii] One reason is that Quetta is more than 850 miles from Mohmand. Without modern command and control infrastructure, it is difficult for the Quetta Shura to direct militants in Mohmand. The Mohmand Taliban do get some support from Qari Zia ur-Rahman, a Taliban leader in Afghanistan.[xix]

    Hizb-e Islami Gulbuddin

    Neither do the Mohmand Taliban have direct operational links with Gulbuddin Hekmatyar's Hizb-e Islami Group (HIG), which is active Kunar, Nangarhar, and Kapisa, Afghan provinces neighboring Mohmand.[xx] Hekmatyar abhors the gruesome tactics and exclusivity of the more extreme Taliban groups like those in Mohmand, recently writing a pamphlet rhetorically asking whether he should become a Wahhabi or remain a religious person.[xxi] In the pamphlet, which was released just weeks before HIG representatives began a round of negotiations with the Afghan government in early 2010, Hekmatyar claimed militancy in the region was being carried out by Salafis supported by elements of the Saudi government, various Arab charity organizations, and some sections of Pakistan's intelligence services. Hekmatyar may be posturing to demonstrate that he is a reliable Afghan politician, and not beholden to al-Qaeda and other hardline movements.

    Foreign Militants

    People in remote parts of Mohmand have reported seeing scores of non-Pakistani militants accompanying the local Taliban militants, but the number and exact locations of these foreign militants has not been ascertained because they usually were seen while on the move and in small bands.[xxii] On Jan. 11, 2009, however, about 600 heavily armed foreign and local militants attacked the Frontier Corps check posts in the Mamad Gat, Sagi, and Lakaro areas. In all-night fighting, at least 10 Frontier Corps personnel were killed along with a reported 40 militants.[xxiii] Most of the militants came from the Afghan side of the border and were joined by local Taliban fighters. The combined force of insurgents later attacked a Frontier Corps base near the border.[xxiv]

    Al-Qaeda leaders have also used Mohmand as a safe haven, though it does not appear to be a major stronghold for foreign militants. In September 2008 Rehman Malik, the interior security adviser to the Pakistani prime minister (and now interior minister) revealed that al-Qaeda deputy Ayman Al-Zawahiri had barely escaped military action in the Mohmand Agency.[xxv]

    Raza Khan, a Pashtun journalist, is working on his doctoral thesis at the University of Peshawar. He has served in several senior positions in Pakistani government ministries. This is excerpted from a longer research paper, part of the New America Foundation's "Battle for Pakistan" series, on militancy in Mohmand.
     
  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    U.S. Heads a Cast of Villains in Pakistan’s Conspiracy Talk


     
    Last edited: May 26, 2010
  4. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    The Islamic Terrorist fomenting intelligence outfit of the Military of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) is linked to Faisal Shahzad , the Pakistani origin Islamic terrorist who tried to car bomb New York’s Times Square,

    The Major of the Army of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan whose involvement as an accomplice of Faisal Shahzad was first disclosed by the Los Angeles Times (Link 1) and subsequently reiterated after the Pakistan Army denied a connection (Link 2) is/was apparently a member of the ISI.

    See this article in the Pakistani newspaper, The Nation, which identifies one of those arrested as belonging to “a security agency” and having a brother named “Qamar”:

    Meanwhile this article in the Pakistni Newspaper, “The News”, discloses the fact that Major Adnan Ejaz of the Pakistan Army’s Signal Corp’s who was mysteriously picked up after Faisal Shahzad’s arrest has a brother named Qamar:

    Mystery of Army officer’s arrest deepens

    Meanwhile “The News” is not buying the Pakistani Military’s attempt to whitewash links of Faisal Shahzad to a member of the Pakistani Army. From the above linked article in The News:

    the arrested persons are all elite educated.....
    Major Adnan of the PA
    His brother, Qamar Ejaz, a software-engineer
    Shahid Hussain, an MBA from the US, and a financial analyst with Telenor Company
    Salman Ashraf (also a US-educated RAPE) and Raza Ahmad, whose fathers co-owned an upscale catering service, Hanif Rajput Catering
    Khunbal Akhtar, a graphic designer with elite background like others
    Shoaib Moghal, an alleged go-between Taliban and Faisal Shehzad, was arrested from Islamabad where he had a large computer dealership
     
  5. bhramos

    bhramos Elite Member Elite Member

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    US delivers evidence on Faisal’s Taliban links

    WASHINGTON: Senior U.S. officials used an urgent meeting with Pakistan's president to present a dossier on terrorism suspect Faisal Shahzad, including a detailed chart describing his contacts with the Pakistani Taliban before his attempt to detonate an explosives-laden vehicle in New York City's Times Square, officials said.

    The evidence was part of an emphatic American warning that there would be "inevitable pressure" on the United States to take action if there was an attack traceable to Pakistan that resulted in U.S. casualties, officials familiar with the talks said.

    The warning was delivered last week in a visit to Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, by White House National Security Advisor James L. Jones and CIA Director Leon E. Panetta, who said Pakistan needed to intensify its crackdown on the Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehrik-e-Taliban, or TTP, and other militant groups.

    Originally, officials in Islamabad denied that the Pakistani Taliban, a militant group based in the country's tribal regions, was involved in the May 1 bombing attempt. But in the days since Jones and Panetta met with President Asif Ali Zardari and other leaders, Pakistani officials have begun to acknowledge that the group provided support to Shahzad.

    The Taliban initially claimed responsibility for the attempted attack, though it later backed away from the claim and denied even knowing Shahzad.

    U.S. officials have become convinced that the TTP, after primarily focusing on attacks against the Pakistani government, is increasingly seeking ways to strike U.S. targets. The group has formed closer links with Al Qaeda and has seemed to adopt the terrorist network's goal of striking the United States on its own territory.

    "We have been lucky in the past, but our luck will run out and in the future, we are likely to face successful attacks," said a senior U.S. intelligence official, who, like several others, was not authorized to comment publicly and spoke on condition of anonymity.

    The evidence, which included photographs of militants suspected of assisting Shahzad, was shown to Zardari and Gen. Ashfaq Kayani, the army chief of staff, along with other Pakistani officials, U.S. officials said.

    Jones and Panetta were attempting to convince the Pakistanis that the U.S. had hard evidence that Shahzad had received support from the Pakistani Taliban, the officials said.

    The chart, which was assembled by U.S. intelligence agencies, "showed who all he had contacts with," one official said, and drew "clear links between Faisal Shahzad and the TTP leaders in Pakistan."

    Jones and Panetta did not spell out action the United States might take, the official said. The delegation did not rule out military action, for example, but it didn't talk about it specifically, he said.

    Whether the U.S. would respond militarily or with lesser steps would depend on the circumstances of an attack and the strength of the evidence implicating militants in Pakistan, several officials said.

    The White House originally considered warning Pakistan about the consequences of another attack in a confidential letter from President Obama to Zardari, but it decided to dispatch Jones and Panetta to deliver the message in person.

    In addition to that visit, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned publicly in the days after the Times Square attempt that Pakistan faced "very severe consequences" in the event of another plot originating in Pakistan. Her comment provoked a strong backlash in Pakistan.

    The Obama administration has been pleased with recent Pakistani military offensives undertaken in the tribal areas. U.S. officials want Islamabad to do more, especially in North Waziristan, but they acknowledge that Pakistan's military already is stretched.

    A U.S. campaign of attacks launched by unmanned aircraft in Pakistan's tribal belt has been intensified since Obama took office. Pakistan is highly resistant to more than a token U.S. military presence on its territory, and American officials say there are few additional options for unilateral action against militant groups in Pakistan.

    But if a terrorist attack launched from the Pakistani tribal belt did result in U.S. casualties, the pressure on the White House to act could be overwhelming, said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA official and a terrorism expert at the Brookings Institution.

    "Professions by the Pakistanis that they are trying hard won't cut it anymore," Riedel said.

    http://thenews.com.pk/updates.asp?id=105452
     
  6. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

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    Document says number of attempted attacks on U.S. is at all-time high


    Washington (CNN) -- Just weeks after the failed car bombing of New York's Times Square, the Department of Homeland Security says "the number and pace of attempted attacks against the United States over the past nine months have surpassed the number of attempts during any other previous one-year period."
    That grim assessment is contained in an unclassified DHS intelligence memo prepared for various law enforcement groups, which says terror groups are expected to try attacks inside the United States with "increased frequency."
    CNN obtained a copy of the document, dated May 21, which goes on to warn, "we have to operate under the premise that other operatives are in the country and could advance plotting with little or no warning."
    The intelligence note says recent attempted terror attacks have used operatives and tactics which made the plots hard to detect.
    The document specifically mentions the cases of Afghan national Najibullah Zazi, who pleaded guilty in February to plotting attacks on New York's subways, and Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American.
    The intelligence report says both men spent significant time in the United States and were familiar with their alleged targets. Furthermore, the plots involved materials that can be commonly purchased in America without causing suspicion.
    The document also says Shahzad and Zazi had short periods of training overseas "compared to lengthier training cycles for earlier operations, reducing our ability to detect their activities."
    The report say U.S. officials "lack insights in specific details, timing and intended targets," but trends indicate terrorists are looking for "smaller, more achievable attacks against easily accessible targets."
    The report mentions both al Qaeda and associated groups such as the Tehrik e-Taliban Pakistan, which is known as the TTP.
    The intelligence document also says terror groups increasingly are using westerners as operatives or in leadership positions in which they make public statements calling for Muslims to strike the United States. The document cites as examples Yemeni-American cleric Anwar al-Alawki and al Qaeda spokesman Adam Gadahn.
    The report also mentions Omar Hammami, who grew up in Alabama and is now believed to be an operative with al-Shabaab in Somalia. Although al-Shabaab has not executed attacks in the United States, law enforcement officials have expressed concern that Somali-Americans who have gone to Somalia to train and fight could return to the United States and commit acts of terrorism.
     
  7. maomao

    maomao Veteran Hunter of Maleecha Senior Member

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    Another suspect revealed in Times Square bomb case

    Another suspect revealed in Times Square bomb case


    ISLAMABAD: Another man has been detained in connection with the main suspect in the Times Square attempted car bombing, a Pakistani official said.

    The latest suspect to be questioned is a Pakistani named Humbal Akhtar. The official requested anonymity because he works for Pakistani intelligence and is not allowed to comment on the record. He gave no other details about Akhtar.

    The primary suspect, Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, is being held in the United States.

    Intelligence officials have said around 11 people have been detained in the case in Pakistan.

    Akhtar's wife, Rahila, confirmed Friday in a brief phone conversation that her husband disappeared a few days ago. She declined to give more details.

    http://www.dawn.com/wps/wcm/connect...ws/pakistan/04-times-sq-another-suspect-qs-04
     
  8. nandu

    nandu Senior Member Senior Member

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    Shahzad got crash course from thugs in Pak: report

    New York, May 30 (PTI) Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, arrested for the failed Times Square bombing, got a "crash course" in killing from thugs in Pakistan's two top terror towns -- Miran Shah and Mir Ali, according to a media report here.

    Shahzad, the 30-year-old son of a retired Pakistani Air Vice Marshal, had recently spent time in the towns most associated with Al-Qaeda and its Taliban allies, a senior military officer in Islamabad told the New York Daily News.

    The US has accused the Pakistani Taliban, which enjoys a near impunity in the lawless Waziristan tribal region bordering Afghanistan, of masterminding the May 1 Times Square failed bombing.

    "It was TTP groups from Miran Shah and Mir Ali," the Pakistani officer told paper.

    A US official said "It is a cauldron, an epicenter of extremist activity...There are boomtowns and then there are 'boom' towns, and that's what these are.
     

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