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Pakistani Taliban Directed Times Square Bomb Attempt, Officials Say

3 years ago
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Top Obama administration officials Sunday said that the Pakistani Taliban, which had claimed credit for the failed attempt by Faisal Shahzad to set off a car bomb in New York's crowded Times Square on May 1, did in fact that mastermind the plot.

Attorney General Eric Holder, speaking on ABC's This Week and NBC's Meet the Press, said, "We've now developed evidence that shows that the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attack."

"We know that they helped facilitate it," Holder said. "We know that they probably helped finance it. And that he (Shahzad) was working at their direction."

Holder also said that the administration would explore changes in the Miranda law now that the New York incident has triggered another debate over whether a terrorism suspect should be read his Miranda rights.

John Brennan, chief counter-terrorism adviser to President Obama, echoed Holder, saying on CNN's State of the Union that it "looks like he (Shahzad) was working on behalf of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, the TTP, (known) as the Pakistan Taliban. This is a group that is closely allied with al Qaeda. They have been responsible for a number of attacks in Pakistan against Pakistani targets as well as U.S. targets. But this is something that we're taking very seriously. The investigation is ongoing. We are learning more and more every day.

Shahzad is a U.S. citizen of Pakistani descent and is said to have spent five months in Pakistan before returning to the U.S. to prepare for the attack. He loaded a Nissan Pathfinder with three tanks of propane, gasoline and fireworks -- a crude device that authorities said nevertheless could have resulted in a fireball causing numerous injuries and deaths. The intended explosion did not go off and police secured the car after a t-shirt vendor noticed smoke coming from it and alerted them.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed credit for the bombing attempt soon afterwards, saying it was in revenge for the death of its leader, Baitullah Mehsud, and the slaying of several al Qaeda leaders in Iraq. A spokesman sought to distance the group from the incident last week saying it had "no links with Faisal Shahzad" whatsoever, although he did say his group was intent on deploying suicide bombers in the U.S.

Asked on ABC about previous statements by administration officials that U.S. anti-terrorism efforts had degraded the ability of groups like al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban to launch attacks on American soil, Holder said, "I'm not sure that we didn't think they had that ability. We didn't think that necessarily was their aim. We certainly have seen with the Shahzad incident that they have not only the aim, but the capability of doing that. And that's why they have taken on, I think, a new significance in our anti-terror fight."

Brennan said on CNN that the "TTP has been training with, operating with, planning attacks with al Qaeda for a number of years. It was formed several years ago. It is dedicated to the same type of agenda that al Qaeda has, which is a murderous one, to kill innocent civilians. They have operated inside of Pakistan. They have pledged to carry out attacks in other areas of the world, including the United States here. So I think what this incident underscores is the serious threat that we face from a very determined enemy. And we have to remain very vigilant. And we have to do everything in our power to prevent them from carrying out successful attacks. "

But Brennan acknowledged that preventing every terrorist attack like the one attempted by Shahzad was a "difficult challenge."

"Because of our success in degrading the capabilities of these terrorist groups overseas, preventing them from carrying out these attacks, they now are relegated to trying to do these unsophisticated attacks showing that they have inept capabilities in training," he said. "So this is a challenge that every day, we have to remain on our guard. They are trying to find vulnerabilities in our defenses."

Holder, in his NBC appearance, added, that terrorist organizations abroad were "looking for people, as they call it, people with clean skins. They're trying to get people into the country or use people who don't fit any kind of a profile, or not people who you might expect to be involved in these kinds of activities. And that's why we have to redouble our efforts in terms of intelligence gathering..."

On ABC Holder said that his department would consult with Congress about changes in the Miranda law following criticism about authorities reading Shahzad his Miranda rights after initially questioning him without them under what is known as the public safety exception.

"We're now dealing with international terrorism," he said. "And if we are going to have a system that is capable of dealing in a public safety context with this new threat, I think we have to give serious consideration to at least modifying that public safety exception. And that's one of the things that I think we're going to be reaching out to Congress to do, to come up with a proposal that is both constitutional, but that is also relevant to our time and the threat that we now face."

But appearing on the same program, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani repeated the criticism of the handling of Shahzad and voiced frustration about "the lack of urgency that is shown about these terrorism matters" by the administration.

"When I was a prosecutor and associate attorney general, the last thing in the world I wanted to do is to have the other side figure out, you know, the information we had before we had a chance to act on it," Giuliani said. "If they think they need to change the law, well, my goodness, have some urgency about it and go do it. Don't just think about it."
Filed Under: Terror, Times Square Bomb

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