Rep. Hoekstra: Connection between Times Square bomber and Pakistani Taliban would be a “game-changer”
It ought to be, and it would be long overdue with regard to American tolerance of Pakistan’s foot-dragging, highly selective approach to addressing jihadist groups within its borders, and the frequent complicity of the Inter-Services Intelligence with those groups’ activities, whether involving Kashmir or the western frontier provinces. “Congressman cites probable link between Shahzad, Pakistani Taliban,” from CNN, May 6:
(CNN) — The ranking Republican on the House intelligence committee says “there probably is a strong link” between Times Square car bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad and the Taliban in Pakistan.
Rep. Peter Hoekstra told CNN’s American Morning on Thursday that he has drawn that conclusion from a number of sources.
“If this is accurate, it would be a game-changer,” Hoekstra said.
“We’re going to get much more aggressive and perhaps more creative in terms of how we gather intelligence to find the plots and find individuals to stop them,” he said.
He said his committee, the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, will be getting an official briefing later Thursday.
According to a law enforcement source with knowledge of Shahzad’s questioning, the suspect made a practice run in Manhattan the day before he allegedly tried to blow up a car bomb in Times Square.
Last Friday, Shahzad drove his white Isuzu from Connecticut through Times Square, where he staked out potential locations for the following night’s planned attack, the source said. He then parked the Isuzu several blocks away from Times Square, though the precise location was unclear, and took a train back to Connecticut, the source said.
Separately, authorities in Pakistan have rounded up a number of people for questioning, as U.S. law enforcement officials sought Wednesday to piece together Shahzad’s actions and motivations.
Iftikhar Mian, the father-in-law of the suspect, and Tauseef Ahmed, Shahzad’s friend, were picked up in Karachi, Pakistan, on Tuesday, two intelligence officials said.
An intelligence source said Wednesday that Muhammed Rehan, an associate of Shahzad, also was detained Tuesday.
New details began to emerge on how Shahzad made his way to Times Square on Saturday night.
With his recently acquired Pathfinder loaded with his makeshift explosives, Shahzad drove southbound along Manhattan’s East River on FDR Drive to the 49th Street exit, the law enforcement source said.
Shahzad then pulled over and reached into the Pathfinder’s rear compartment where he attempted to set into motion the process needed to set off the homemade bomb, the source said.
The source, who did not explain how Shahzad had attempted to set off the bomb, said he then took a number of turns and wound up entering Times Square by driving south down Seventh Avenue.
It’s unclear why Shahzad left the Pathfinder’s engine running and hazard lights blinking.
But because of an incredible goof, Shahzad couldn’t use his escape car. He had accidentally left the keys to that vehicle in the Pathfinder that he thought was about to blow up, the source said….