US seeks Pakistan ties to talkative bomb suspect

NEW YORK (Reuters) – The United States pushed Pakistan yesterday to investigate possible ties between the Times Square bomb suspect and the Taliban, US officials said, as the suspect provided more information to US investigators.

Faisal Shahzad, 30, who was born in Pakistan and became a US citizen last year, has been charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and trying to kill and maim people, as well as other counts.

Investigations in the United States and Pakistan have uncovered possible links between Shahzad, the Pakistani Taliban and a Kashmiri Islamist group. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for Saturday’s failed bombing and, if proven, it would be the group’s first action in the United States.

US Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson spoke to Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani and Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi yesterday about the case.

“What we are doing right now is communicating to Pakistan that this is important and that we would expect them to take very specific actions as the investigation proceeds,” a US official said. “The political commitment by various officials is very important.”

If ties are found between the failed bombing and Pakistan’s Taliban, Pakistan could come under renewed US pressure to open risky new fronts against Islamist militants.

As authorities investigate Shahzad’s history, they found that he appeared to be an admirer of the fiery anti-American cleric Anwar al-Alawki, who is believed to be hiding in Yemen, and followed his Internet writings, but there was no evidence of any direct contact.

US Attorney General Eric Holder said Shahzad, who was arrested late on Monday, was still cooperating even though he has been advised of his US right to remain silent and right to a lawyer. Shahzad waived his legal rights and faces life in prison if convicted.

“Mr Shahzad is continuing to cooperate with us,” Holder told a Senate Appropriations Committee hearing. “During ongoing questioning by federal agents, Shahzad has provided useful information and we will continue to pursue a number of leads as we gather intelligence.”

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