x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Pakistan makes arrests over Times Square bomb

Authorities have detained several people, intelligence officials said, as new details emerged about the main bombing suspect.

Pakistani authorities have detained several people in connection with the bombing attempt in New York's Times Square, intelligence officials said yesterday. Authorities here also said the suspect detained in the US in the failed bombing, Faisal Shahzad, came from a wealthy family in north-west Pakistan. Law enforcement officials in Washington, DC said yesterday that the Pakistani-born US citizen had attended a terror training camp in Pakistan, and was formally charged with terrorism.

Mr Shahzad was arrested late Monday aboard a flight that was headed to the Middle East for trying to blow up the sport utility vehicle in Times Square on Saturday evening. Mr Shahzad is the son of the retired Air Vice Marshall Baharul Haq, a former top Pakistani air force officer and deputy director general of the civil aviation authority, according to Kifyat Ali, a cousin of Mr Shahzad's father. Mr Ali spoke with reporters outside a two-story home in an upscale part of Peshawar, the main city in the north-west, owned by the family.

Mr Ali said the family had yet to be officially informed of Mr Shahzad's arrest in the United States. He called Mr Shahzad's detention "a conspiracy so the (Americans) can bomb more Pashtuns." It was a reference to a major ethnic group in Peshawar and the nearby tribal areas of Pakistan and south-west Afghanistan. He insisted that Mr Shahzad "was never linked to any political or religious party here." He said Mr Shahzad often stayed in Peshawar when he came back from the United States.

On her social networking page, Mr Shahzad's wife, Huma Mian, lists her languages as English, Pashto, Urdu and French, her religion as Muslim and her political view as "nonpolitical." Her favourite television shows were Everybody Loves Raymond and Friends. The arrests took place in Karachi, a teeming city on the Arabian Sea at the other end of Pakistan. One of those detained, identified as Tauseef, was a friend of Mr Shahzad, one official said. Like all Pakistani intelligence officials, he refused to be named in the media.

Another official said several people had been arrested in Karachi since the failed attack Saturday. Some media reports described them as relatives of Mr Shahzad. Neither said when the detentions had taken place. They said no charges had been filed. Pakistani interior minister Rehman Malik said initial information showed Mr Shahzad and his family came from the Pabbi region of north-west Pakistan, but that Mr Shahzad also had a Karachi identity card.

"We have to see whether it was an individual act or if it was a collective kind of act," he said. * AP