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NY bomb suspect's family knew key militants: report

May 08, 2010

Times Square car bomb suspect Faisal Shahzad's family knew at least two key Pakistani militants who were involved in terrorist activities, The Los Angeles Times reported.

Citing an unnamed US government source, it said the circle of acquaintances included someone who became a Taliban leader and another who took part in the "2008 terrorist attack in Mumbai, India," in which 166 people died.

The newspaper said US officials believe the Pakistani-born Shahzad's family background may help explain why he grew radicalized and allegedly contacted the Pakistani Taliban on the Internet.

"What we don't know is if he was actively recruited by these guys or if he recruited himself," the paper quotes a senior US official as saying.

Shahzad, a Pakistani-born US citizen whose large but poorly made bomb failed to detonate in New Tork's Times Square a week ago, has undergone extensive questioning ever since he was arrested Monday aboard a plane as it prepared to take off for Dubai.

The 30-year-old son of a retired Pakistani Air Force officer has not asked for a lawyer during questioning, officials said.

He has not yet appeared in court on the five terror charges he faces after waiving his right to a speedy arraignment.

But it has since been learned that Shahzad was driven by Sheikh Mohammed Rehan, a known militant, from Karachi to Peshawar in July 2009, and then on to the Waziristan area and its training camps there, The Times said.

Rehan was arrested in Pakistan this week with several others, and Shahzad's father, Bahar Ul Haz, was questioned but not arrested, the report said.

A government source said Ul Haz knew Baitullah Mahsud, a leading Taliban militant in Waziristan, The Times noted.

Shahzad also knew one of the militants involved in the November 2008 attack in Mumbai, the paper said, without specifying which one.

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