Investigators in Pakistan have detained at least 13 people with alleged ties to Faisal Shahzad, the man accused of trying to bomb Times Square in New York City. Here, a quick guide to who these people are, and the roles intelligence officials believe they played in the bombing plot:
Who are Shahzad's alleged Pakistani connections?
They include several people that Pakistani intelligence officials say met with Shahzad when he traveled to Pakistan last summer. One, a computer dealer named Shoaib Mughal, may have put the Times Square suspect into contact with members of the Taliban hiding out along the Afghan border. Another man is suspected of arranging payments for Shahzad, who reportedly received about $15,000 from the Taliban. But the person U.S. intelligence officials may be most eager to interrogate is an unidentified major in the Pakistani army, who is now under arrest.
What makes police believe the army major was involved in the plot?
The major spoke to Shahzad by cell phone on May 1, the day of the botched bombing. One Pakistani law enforcement source told the Los Angeles Times that it appears the major was on the phone with Shazad as the Pakistani-American was allegedly parking his Nissan Pathfinder SUV — rigged with propane tanks, fertilizer and fireworks — in Times Square. Pakistani military sources deny the major was arrested over the Times Square case — they say he was not on active duty, and had left the army after it began a crackdown on the Pakistani Taliban, refusing to fight for religious reasons.
How did Shahzad meet all these people?
Shahzad may have met the major through personal connections including his own father, a retired Pakistani Air Force officer. Intelligence officials suspect Shahzad met others through a loose network of Pakistani elites — including detainee Salman Ashraf Khan, an American-educated caterer who has served the U.S. embassy — united by hatred of the West and a desire to help jihadists. Western intelligence officials believe this network has been recruiting Pakistanis living abroad and encouraging them to return home to train for terrorist attacks.
How did they allegedly help Shahzad?
British terrorism expert Sajjan Gohel speculates that the army major may have helped put Shahzad in touch with the Pakistani Taliban and subsequently helped him travel to North Waziristan, a remote tribal area out of reach of Pakistani authorities, to receive bomb training in a Taliban camp. Other suspects have admitted proudly that they helped Shahzad reach the Taliban camp, return home, and receive money to carry out the plot. Some of the remaining suspects have expressed hatred for the West and the U.S., but denied any contact with Shahzad.
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