Pakistan arrests eight in connection to Times Square attack; Update: High-Value Interrogation Group handling Shahzad
posted at 12:55 pm on May 4, 2010 by Ed Morrissey
Faisal Shahzad claims to have acted alone in his attempt to bomb Times Square, but no one else seems willing to buy that explanation — not even the Pakistanis. CBS reports that Pakistani authorities have already arrested eight men in connection to the investigation:
Sources tell CBS News that multiple people have been taken into custody for questioning in Pakistan in connection with the Times Square bomb plot.
Authorities are not saying who the potential suspects are or where they are being held, but they say there were raids Monday night and Tuesday morning in different locations. It’s believed between four and eight people are being held, and there are reports that some of them may be related to the suspect arrested overnight in New York. …
Faisal Shahzad was taken into custody aboard the flight at Kennedy International Airport. An official said investigators still didn’t have evidence that Shahzad was connected to the Pakistani Taliban or any foreign terror groups, and that “He’s claimed to have acted alone, but these are things that have to be investigated.”
Of course, the leak to the Times about Shahzad’s supposed claims could have been disinformation anyway. They may have hoped to stall some of Shahzad’s alleged co-conspirators in place in order to allow enough time to grab them all. The Pakistanis may or may not have solid leads, too, but may be looking for Shahzad’s relatives as a natural place to start their investigation into the Peshawar part of the terror plot, assuming one existed.
CNN and others are using the foreclosure as a potential motive for Shahzad’s radicalization, but it’s actually important for another reason. The Shahzads apparently had so little money that they lost their house in Shelton and had to sell their possessions on Craigslist to generate some cash. When Shahzad came back from Pakistan after five months, he suddenly had plenty of folding cash, buying the Pathfinder on that basis off of Craigslist just three weeks ago. Somebody fronted Shahzad with a lot of money in a short period of time, right before he attempted to murder hundreds of people in a terrorist attack. Unless the money came from Peshawar Powerball, there are few explanations that make sense other than a plot based out of Pakistan and funded by terrorists with access to a lot of cash. The Taliban generates a lot of cash from the drug trade, and AQ gets financing from many sources.
As far as motives go, the bankruptcy certainly could have been a catalyst for his radicalization, assuming that process took place after his financial collapse. However, Pakistan isn’t home to populist opposition to bankers, at least not in the sense that we see in normal American politics. Assuming Shahzad is the bomber, his trip to Pakistan for five months and return with plenty of cash shows the true motive behind the attack, which is the same behind 9/11 and the series of terrorist attacks and attempts against the US before and since.
Update: Time’s sources report that Shahzad had visited a terrorist training camp during his stay in Pakistan.
Update II: The Washington Post reports two arrests in Karachi, and identifies one of the suspects:
In Pakistan, an intelligence official said authorities arrested at least two people in the southern port city of Karachi in connection with the Times Square bombing attempt. The official, who is not authorized to speak on the record, identified one of those arrested as Tausif Ahmed, who was picked up in a busy commercial neighborhood called Gulshan-e-Iqbal. He said Ahmed reportedly traveled two months ago to the United States to meet with Shahzad. The official did not have the other suspect’s name.
Pakistani television stations reported that as many as five other people with links to the alleged plot may have been arrested in the central industrial city of Faisalabad, but those reports could not immediately be confirmed.
Update III: A lesson learned from the botched handling of the EunuchBomber? Jake Tapper reports that the High Value Interrogation Group is now handling Shahzad:
ABC News has learned that the High-Value Interrogation Group, or HIG, is involved in the interrogation of Faisal Shahzad, the man arrested last night in the investigation into the failed Times Square bombing.
After the arrest of the failed Christmas Day 2009 bomber Umar Farouq Abdulmutallab, the Obama administration was criticized for not having yet made operational the HIG, a special interrogation team for high-value terrorist suspects, though the Special Task Force on Interrogations and Transfer Policies had announced its recommendation to form such a group in August 2009. …
[Dennis Blair’s] comments were interpreted as a rebuke of the decision to have the FBI interrogate Abdulmutallab. Before the end of the day, Blair issued a statement saying his remarks had “been misconstrued. The FBI interrogated Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab when they took him into custody. They received important intelligence at that time, drawing on the FBI’s expertise in interrogation that will be available in the HIG once it is fully operational.”
That then prompted questions as to why HIG was not yet operational. Within days, at the end of January 2010, National Security Adviser Gen. Jim Jones (ret.) signed the charter to form the HIG.
There isn’t any reason why the HIG would not get involved after a Miranda warning, either.