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Pakistan raids shed light on Times Square bomber

A picture is emerging of the failed Times Square car bomber after raids and arrests in Karachi.

A man walks near a house that neighbors say belongs to the family of Faisal Shahzad at a village in Pabbi, a small town near the main northwestern city of Peshawar May 5, 2010. Pakistan on Tuesday made several arrests in connection with the failed Times Square car bomb attack in New York. (K. Parvez/Reuters)

KARACHI, Pakistan — Security officials moved swiftly here to round up as many as eight associates of Faisal Shahzad, the American citizen of Pakistani origin who faces terrorism charges after admitting his role in a failed car-bomb attack Saturday night in Times Square.

In a series of raids that stretched into the pre-dawn hours of Wednesday in this southern port city, friends and several family relatives were picked up for questioning, Pakistani authorities told the national media here.

A relative of the suspect, Kifayat Ali, said in an interview with GlobalPost at a family home in Peshawar that: “None of the family members have ever been involved with any Jihadi organization.”

“This is a conspiracy against all Pashtun people,” he said, adding: “It will be confirmed just in a few hours whether he was involved in this case or not.”

One of those detained in the raids here overnight was believed to be Tauseef Ahmed, a purported cousin of Shahzad, sources said, adding that he was arrested from a predominantly residential neighborhood of Karachi called Gulshan-e-Iqbal.

Shahzad, whose father was a ranking member of the Pakistani military, seems to have had connections in Islamabad also. Pakistani authorities said that he had given an Islamabad address on his disembarkation card. He traveled on a 10-year, multiple entry visa, the sources added.

It was not clear Tuesday night whether any arrests had been made here in connection with the case in New York, where Shahzad was captured Tuesday on board a Dubai-bound plane set to depart from Kennedy International Airport.

But it was clear that Pakistan, which has been routinely criticized by U.S. counter-terrorism officials for dragging its feet in confronting Taliban and Al Qaeda elements inside the country, seemed to be going out of its way to publicly demonstrate cooperation with U.S. officials in the investigation.

Pakistani foreign minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met almost immediately with U.S. Ambassador Anne W. Patterson, and assured her of full cooperation.

It was announced that one of Pakistan's top cops, and Director of the Federal Investigation Agency, Khalid Qureshi, was heading up a high-level team to investigate the matter.

U.S. officials have said that the 30-year-old Shahzad had recently returned to his home in Connecticut after a five-month stay in Pakistan.

The trip to Pakistan, where it is believed his wife and two children are living, included a visit to the Northwest Frontier Province where Taliban and Al Qaeda bases are woven into the rugged, impenetrable terrain along the border with Afghanistan.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/pakistan/100504/times-square-bomber-pakistan