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Three arrested in Times Square probe

14 May, 2010

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WATERTOWN: Federal agents conducted on Thursday raids in Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey in connection with the failed Times Square car bomb and arrested three people, including two Pakistani men who provided money to the suspect, Faisal Shahzad, law enforcement officials said.

The searches were the product of evidence gathered in the investigation into Shahzad’s alleged bombing attempt two weeks ago, but there was “no known immediate threat to the public or any active plot against the United States,î FBI spokeswoman Gail Marcinkiewicz said.

US Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Brian Hale said three people were arrested on suspected immigration violations: two in the Boston area and one in Maine. All three arrests are administrative and not criminal, he said.

The two Boston-area men had a ìdirect connectionî to Shahzad, said a top Massachusetts law enforcement official. They are believed to have provided money to him, but investigators weren’t sure whether they were witting accomplices or simply moving funds, as is common among people from the Middle East and Central Asia who live in the US, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

ìThese people might be completely innocent and not know what they were providing money for, but it’s clear there’s a connection,î the official said. The men are from Pakistan, said another law enforcement official familiar with the investigation who spoke on condition of anonymity because the official was not authorised to release details.

That official said one of the men had overstayed his visa. The government had already begun proceedings to remove the other man from the country; he was awaiting a ruling from an immigration court.

In New Jersey, the FBI was searching a residence in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, and a print shop in Camden, New Jersey, said FBI spokesman JJ Klaver in Philadelphia. Shahzad, a US citizen born in Pakistan, has not yet appeared in court. Federal investigators say he has been cooperating and has told them he received weapons training in Pakistan.

Elias Audy, 61, is listed at the owner of the Mobil station. He was seen by reporters leaving the business afterward and had no comment. There was no indication that Audy, the gas station owner, was a target of the terror probe.

US authorities raided locations in New York, Boston and Philadelphia suburbs in connection with the failed Times Square bombing and arrested several people, but officials said there was no new attack threat.

“Just this morning, we executed search warrants in several locations in the Northeast in connection with the investigation into the attempted bombing,” Attorney General Eric Holder told the House Judiciary Committee in Washington.

He said “several individuals” were taken into federal custody for alleged immigration violations. “The searches are the product of evidence that has been gathered in the investigation since the attempted Times Square bombing and do not relate to any known immediate threat to the public or active plot against the United States,” he said. The FBI said there were no arrests in New York or in New Jersey.


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