WASHINGTON: The Pakistani Taliban were behind the failed attempt to detonate a car bomb in the heart of New York City, the US claimed on Sunday.
The accusation comes two days after the US military commander in Afghanistan General Stanley McChrystal met with Army Chief General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani and urged him to quickly begin a military offensive against the Taliban and al Qaeda in the North Waziristan tribal region. “We’ve now developed evidence that shows that the Pakistani Taliban were behind the attack,” Attorney General Eric Holder said on ABC television’s Sunday current affairs talk show “This Week”.
“We know that they helped facilitate it. We know that they probably helped finance it, and that he was working at their direction.” The New York Times reported that the US warned Pakistan after the failed bombing that it must crack down on militants or face severe consequences.
Citing unnamed US and Pakistani officials, the newspaper said Gen McChrystal met with Gen Kayani in Islamabad on Friday to push for an operation against the Taliban and al Qaeda. However military sources denied that any such matter was discussed in the meeting. The new pressure from Washington was characterised by Pakistani and US officials as a sharp turnaround from the relatively polite encouragement adopted by the administration of President Barack Obama in recent months.
It came amid increasing debate within the administration about how to proceed in the war on terror that included even “a boots-on-the-ground presence” on Pakistani soil, the report said. “We are saying, sorry, if there is a successful attack, we will have to act,” one of the US officials is quoted in the report as saying.
Faisal Shahzad, the 30-year-old Pakistani-American son of a retired air force officer, was pulled off a plane to Dubai and arrested Monday for allegedly leaving a sport utility vehicle rigged to explode in New York’s Times Square on May 1. Earlier, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also warned Pakistan of serious consequences if the attack in New York City had been successful.
“We’ve made it very clear that if - heaven-forbid - an attack like this that we can trace back to Pakistan were to have been successful, there would be very severe consequences,” Clinton told CBS’s “60 Minutes” programme, according to excerpts released by the TV network. She also stated that there had been a “sea change” in cooperation by Pakistani authorities but added, “We want more.”
Also, John Brennan, the White House deputy national security adviser, charged that Shahzad was trained and apparently funded by the Tehreeke- Taliban Pakistan. “He had extensive interaction with the TTP. And this is something that we are, again, looking at very carefully, understanding the extent of that interaction and the extent of the direction and guidance that was given to him,” he told Fox News on Sunday.
“What we are trying to do is determine who exactly helped him, who worked with him and making sure we are able to uncover and then to address successfully these individuals who are trying to carry out other attacks,” Brennan said.
Meanwhile the Online news agency said that an FBI team, currently on a secret visit to Pakistan, has demanded access to the father of Faisal Shahzad. Quoting reliable sources Online said Pakistan has refused the FBI demand to investigate the father of the alleged attacker.
The FBI has, however, been allowed access to details of Faisal Shahzad’s activities during his Pakistan visit. Online stated that the Faisal Shazad’s father has not been arrested but is in safe custody. A friend of Faisal Shahzad, who was shifted from his Karachi residence to Islamabad, has also been investigated by the FBI team, according to Online.