US does not rule out Headley-Shahzad connection

By Arun Kumar, IANS,

Washington: The United States has not ruled out a connection between two Pakistani Americans, key Mumbai terror plotter David Coleman Headley and failed Times square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad, as it probes all angles of the case.

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“Well, it could be – there have been multiple plots that have involved the United States and Pakistan, citizens on both sides who have chosen to take these actions,” a State Department spokesman said Friday when asked if there was any connection between the two cases.

“I’m not aware that there’s any specific connection, but clearly, we are looking to see, while this individual was in Pakistan, who he met with, what support, if any, was provided,” spokesman Philip J. Crowley told reporters.

“And that is the reason why we are working so closely with Pakistan on this investigation.”

Asked whether the US was in touch with India about the Times Square incident, Crowley noted the two countries have a regular dialogue on counter-terrorism issues, but could not say at this point if there was an Indian link.

“I mean, we have regular dialogue with India, including on counter-terrorism issues,” he said. “I can’t say at this point there’s an Indian link to this case, but we do have dialogue with India on a regular basis on terrorism issues.”

Earlier, ABC News citing unnamed sources traced Shahzad’s links to another Pakistani militant outfit Jaish-e-Mohammad and suggested he was a childhood friend of one of the alleged masterminds of the 2008 Mumbai massacre.

However, the television network did not identify the Pakistani mastermind.

The Pakistani Taliban are denying any role in the failed car bombing, but have praised Shahzad for a “brave job done”, ABC said noting the suspected bomber was also in contact with former Tehreek-e-Taliban chief Baitullah Mehsud who was killed in a US missile strike in 2009.

“The Mehsuds had been family friends of Shahzad, who is a son of a former high ranking Pakistani military officer,” ABC News said quoting Pakistani sources.

Shahzad was reported to be in touch with a man named Mohammad Rehan, a suspected Jaish militant who helped him to travel to Peshawar and then to Waziristan and introduced him to Taliban.

(Arun Kumar can be contacted at [email protected])