Pakistan’s Taliban militants were
behind the botched 1 May Times Square bombing in New York, top administration
officials said, reversing earlier US claims casting doubt on such a connection.
Attorney General Eric Holder told
ABC News’s “This Week” talk show, one of two Sunday shows on which he
was scheduled to appear, that ”We’ve now developed evidence that shows that
the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attack,” according to an excerpt of
the show’s transcript.
The excerpt did not detail what
possible evidence might have led US authorities to change their view from last
week that the suspect, Faisal Shahzad, had likely acted alone.
Mr. Shahzad, a 30-year-old,
Pakistani-born U.S. citizen, has admitted to investigators that he built the
bomb and rigged it to explode in a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder in New York City’s
bustling Theater District packed with tourists, US officials say.
He at least initially claimed to
have acted alone, according to authorities, and the unsophisticated nature of
the bomb led them to give that claim credence.
If proven to be true, the link to
the Pakistani Taliban would demonstrate a new reach by the militant group,
which is known to be behind bombings inside Pakistan. US and Pakistan
authorities had believed that the group did not have the capability to carry
out operations much beyond the country.
“We know that they helped
facilitate it,” Mr. Holder said. “We know that they probably helped finance
it. And that he was working at their direction.”
John Brennan, President Barack
Obama’s homeland security and counterterrorism adviser, said in a separate
interview on CNN on Sunday that Mr. Shahzad apparently “was working on
behalf of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, the ‘TTP.’ That’s the Pakistan
Taliban. This is a group that is closely allied with al Qaeda.”
Mr. Brennan told Fox News that TTP trained,
funded and met extensively with Mr. Shahzad to plan the attack. Mr. Brennan
said both al Qaeda and the Pakistani Taliban groups are operating with degraded
capabilities, which means that attacks on American soil and in other areas are
smaller in scope.
“They now are relegated to
trying to do these unsophisticated attacks, showing that they have inept
capabilities and training,” he said on CNN. “This is something we
have to remain on guard against.”
Speaking on the same programme, Republican
Senator for Alabama Richard Shelby said enforcement officials were lucky to
catch Mr. Shahzad, and that it will be more difficult to catch isolated
“If they keep fanning out all
over the country, we’re going to have deep, deep challenges ahead in terrorism
work,” he said. “We can do everything we can to protect, but there
will be some things that will slip up on us no matter what.”
Senator. Joseph Lieberman (Independent,
Connecticut) said on “Fox News Sunday” that the fact officials
weren’t able to prevent the attempted attack, even though it was unsuccessful,
proved the “system failed”.
“The fact is that we were
lucky,” he said. “We did not prevent the attempted attack.”
Mr. Brennan rejected the assertion
that the administration had been “lucky.”
“When I hear these references
to being lucky, tell that to the hundreds of thousands of American men and
women who are serving in Afghanistan and in other parts of the world, who are
at our ports of entry, who are working around the clock here in the United States
and abroad,” he said. “That’s not luck. That’s patriotism.”