News / USA

Bombing Suspect Faisal Shahzad Still being Questioned

U.S. officials say a Pakistani-American charged with an attempted car bombing in New York City is cooperating with investigators as they try to determine a motive for the planned attack. Faisal Shahzad was arrested late Monday and charged with trying to blow up a sports utility vehicle in crowded Times Square on Saturday.  Meanwhile, authorities in Pakistan say they have made arrests in connection with the failed car bombing. 

The man charged with numerous counts of terrorism was born in this tiny northwestern village known as Mohib Banda.  Faisal Shahzad's father is a retired air vice marshal in the Pakistani military. He comes from an upper-middle class family.  Neighbors in this town of 5,000 are saddened by the news.

"I am weeping for my village; I am weeping for this unfortunate family," Nazirullah Khan, retired school teacher said. "What on earth is going on?"

Some analysts say discontent is bubbling up from the Pakistani middle class because of U.S. restrictions on visas and increased screening after recent bomb attempts.  However, Faiz Ahmed, village elders says he knows Shahzad. "He was an absolutely normal person. He had no connection with any religious party or any political party," he recalled.

But police say Shahzad, now a naturalized American citizen, admitted to his role in Saturday night's attempted car bombing. And, that he took bomb making lessons in Pakistan.

The Pakistani Tehrik-e-Taliban, initially claimed responsibility for the attempted act of violence.  The group, based along the border with Afghanistan, had been targeting the Pakistani government, not the U.S.  But now, counterterrorism research fellow, Brian Fishman, worry the group's reach may go farther.  "This is clearly a sign that the group has become closer to al-Qaida and is looking to attack abroad," he said.

Other experts do not believe the Taliban in Pakistan have the resources for such an act.  They think Shahzad may have acted alone when they say he parked his car rigged with bomb materials in Times Square.  The terrorism attempt comes at a bad time for U.S.-Pakistani relations.  Analysts say the two countries were starting to make progress against the Taliban. The U.S. ambassador on Wednesday met with senior Pakistani officials, including President Asif Ali Zardari .

"They recognize as we do, that this is a shared responsibility and a shared threat," said P.J. Crowley of the US State Department.

The most recent threat nearly got away. The 30-year-old Pakistani American was on board this flight, bound for Dubai when pilots heard this from Air Traffic Control:

Federal agents stopped the flight and removed Shahzad, who managed to board the airplane despite being placed on a "no-fly" list hours before.  Now, the U.S. government is changing the rules to require airlines to check the no-fly list within two hours after being notified of changes.  Legislators on Capitol Hill are also looking at new laws to deny gun and explosive purchases to suspected terrorists.

"We don't want to rob people of a constitutional right but - I kind of don't like saying this, but I'm going to do it, and that is - to err on the side of protection is the chance sometimes we have to take," said Democratic Senator Frank Lautenberg from New Jersey.

Shahzad's first appearance in an American courtroom was delayed.  Law enforcement officials say they are keeping him busy with interrogations - and that he's giving them significant information.

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