CIA chief briefs Pakistan on Times Square terrorism suspect

CIA director briefed Pakistani officials on the Times Square terror suspect, Faisal Shahzad, who appeared in court on Tuesday.
An undated file photo from the social networking site, shows a man who was identified by neighbors in Connecticut as Faisal Shahzad.

The CIA director briefed senior Pakistani officials Wednesday on the investigation into the failed Times Square car bombing and praised the country's cooperation, a statement from both sides said.

A Pakistani-born American has been arrested on suspicion of masterminding the May 1 botched bombing and has allegedly told investigators he trained under the Pakistani Taliban in the largely militant-held region of Waziristan, close to the Afghan border.

U.S. officials have praised a series of offensives against the Pakistani Taliban and allied groups in the border areas over the last two years. But the Times Square incident has added to pressure on the army to move into North Waziristan, a region it has previously largely left alone.

The visit by CIA Director Leon Panetta and U.S. national security adviser former Gen. James Jones was the first since the failed attack.

The two men met with President Asif Ali Zardari on Wednesday afternoon, said presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar. They also held talks with Pakistan's army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

"Jones expressed appreciation for the excellent cooperation the United States is receiving from Pakistan," the statement said. "The talks covered measures that both countries are, and will be, taking to confront the common threat we face from extremists and prevent such potential attacks from occurring again."

Pakistani officials have said very little about the investigation. Anonymous officials say several people connected to the suspect, Faisal Shahzad, have been picked up, but they gave no information on what role — if any — they played in the attack.

The Pakistani Taliban, which have previously not conducted attacks on U.S. soil, have been the target of several Pakistani army offensives over the last two years and been battered by scores of American missile strikes. They are allied to al-Qaida and the Afghan Taliban just across the border.

As many as 60 militants and two soldiers were killed in fighting Wednesday in the Orakzai tribal region, said Samiullah Khan, an administrator in the office of the political agent in the region. He gave no more information and it was not possible to independently confirm the fighting.

Orakzai has seen intense battles between the army and militants over the last month that have killed several hundred insurgents, officials say. The region is off-limits to journalists.

The army has not moved into the North Waziristan region in part because powerful insurgent commanders there have generally not attacked targets in Pakistan and the army is unwilling to antagonize them. In recent months, however, fleeing fighters and commanders from the Pakistani Taliban — which have launched scores of bloody suicide attacks around the country since 2007 — have moved there.


Associated Press reporter Hussain Afzal in Parachinar contributed to this report.


Where in Pakistan did Faisal Shahzad learn bomb-making skills?

Why the Times Square bomb failed spectacularly

Times Square bomber joins the growing list of inept terrorists

of 5 stories this month > Get unlimited stories
You've read 5 of 5 free stories

Only $1 for your first month.

Get unlimited Monitor journalism.