US says Pakistani Taliban behind bomb attempt

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States is  convinced that a Pakistani Taliban group closely allied with al  Qaeda was behind the attempted bombing in New York’s Times  Square, administration officials said  yesterday.

US Attorney General Eric Holder said Islamabad was  cooperating in the ongoing investigation of the May 1 incident  and the Obama administration will keep the pressure on for  their continued help.

“We’ve now developed evidence that show the Pakistani  Taliban was behind the attack,” he said in an interview on ABC  television’s ‘This Week.’

“We know that they helped facilitate it. We know that they  probably helped finance it. And that he was working at their  direction,” he said, referring to Faisal Shahzad, the  Pakistan-born naturalized American who is now under arrest.

Shahzad, 30, was arrested last Monday, two days after  authorities say he parked a crude car bomb in New York’s busy  Times Square. Authorities say he has been cooperating in the  investigation.

Appearing on CNN’s ‘State of the Union,’ President Barack  Obama’s top counterrorism officer, John Brennan, said “It is  looking like the TTP is responsible for this attempt.”

This would be the first time the group known as  Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (Taliban Movement of Pakistan) would  have been implicated in an attack on US soil, according to  US intelligence officials. The TTP was formed in South Waziristan and is the Pakistani  Taliban group most influenced by al Qaeda. Its leader,  Baitullah Mehsud, was killed in August 2009 by a US drone  strike. The TTP has pledged to carry out attacks in the United  States and elsewhere.
Brennan called it a “very serious threat from a very  determined enemy.”

Holder said the Obama administration was satisfied for now  with the level of cooperation it was getting from Pakistani  authorities in the investigation of the attempted bombing. He  added that there was nothing to suggest the Pakistani  government was aware of the plot.

“They’ve been cooperative with us, and I think we have been  satisfied with the work that they have done,” Holder said,  adding that the United States wants that to continue.

“To the extent that it does not, we will…take the  appropriate steps,” he added. Secretary of State Hillary  Clinton warned on Friday of “severe consequences” if a  successful extremist attack was traced back to Pakistan.

Brennan added that Pakistan needs to keep pressure on  militants, particularly in Waziristan and along the border with  Afghanistan.
“There are a number of terrorist groups and militant  organizations operating in Pakistan, and we need to make sure  that there’s no support being given to them by the Pakistani  government.”

Appearing on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ Holder said it was  unclear whether Shahzad will be tried in a civilian court or  whether a trial will be necessary, raising the possibility that  Shahzad might plead guilty.

“We have developed information that I think we can use in a  civilian court,” Holder said. “It’s not even sure at this point  whether or not there even has to be a trial.”

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