Daily brief: Pakistani-American arrested in NYC bomb scare

Do not pass go A 30-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan was pulled off a flight to Dubai and arrested at JFK airport in New York just before midnight for allegedly driving the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder he reportedly purchased several weeks ago with $1,800 in cash into Times Square in a failed car bombing (NYT, ...

Yana Paskova/Getty Images
Yana Paskova/Getty Images
Yana Paskova/Getty Images

Do not pass go

A 30-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan was pulled off a flight to Dubai and arrested at JFK airport in New York just before midnight for allegedly driving the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder he reportedly purchased several weeks ago with $1,800 in cash into Times Square in a failed car bombing (NYT, BBC, CNN, Reuters, Wash Post, WSJ, CNN, ABC). Faisal Shahzad, who became a U.S. citizen on April 17, 2009, had recently returned from a five-month trip to Peshawar, and has family ties to Karachi, though had reportedly been living with his wife, Huma Mian, and two young children just outside Bridgeport, Connecticut (NYT, AP).

Shahzad will appear in federal court in Manhattan later today, and investigators are pursuing "growing indications of a possible international" link, though officials caution that does not mean "an established connection to a known terrorist group" (Wash Post, NYT). Pakistani officials have promised their assistance and cooperation in the case (Reuters). Attorney General Eric Holder's statement on Shahzad's arrest is available here (AP).

Do not pass go

A 30-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan was pulled off a flight to Dubai and arrested at JFK airport in New York just before midnight for allegedly driving the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder he reportedly purchased several weeks ago with $1,800 in cash into Times Square in a failed car bombing (NYT, BBC, CNN, Reuters, Wash Post, WSJ, CNN, ABC). Faisal Shahzad, who became a U.S. citizen on April 17, 2009, had recently returned from a five-month trip to Peshawar, and has family ties to Karachi, though had reportedly been living with his wife, Huma Mian, and two young children just outside Bridgeport, Connecticut (NYT, AP).

Shahzad will appear in federal court in Manhattan later today, and investigators are pursuing "growing indications of a possible international" link, though officials caution that does not mean "an established connection to a known terrorist group" (Wash Post, NYT). Pakistani officials have promised their assistance and cooperation in the case (Reuters). Attorney General Eric Holder’s statement on Shahzad’s arrest is available here (AP).

Although a commander for the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan militant group had claimed responsibility for the failed car bombing in a message released over the weekend, the TTP’s official spokesman, Azam Tariq, told reporters in Peshawar, "We don’t know about this video. As far as I know, none of our people have posted the video" (ToI). Analysts and officials are also skeptical of the TTP’s involvement in the plot (McClatchy).

War in Waziristan

A German convert to Islam who was wanted by German police on suspicion of belonging to a terrorist cell was reportedly killed in a battle with Pakistani troops in Waziristan on April 30, the fourth German jihadist to have died in the region (Spiegel, Daily Times, AP, DW). Eric Breininger, 22, was reportedly involved with the Islamic Jihad Union, an Uzbek militant group.

Pakistani security forces have given members of the Swat Taliban until tomorrow to surrender, or else have their houses destroyed and their relatives expelled from the area (Daily Times). Officials now say that drone strikes in northwest Pakistan over the last two years have killed "more than 500" militants and "fewer than 30" civilians, and Pakistani industry insiders are reportedly "furious" at the Pentagon’s offer to give Pakistan unarmed surveillance drones, calling them "old" (Reuters, ET). There have now been as many reported drone strikes so far in 2010 as there were in all of 2008 (NAF).

The sentencing

The sentence for the only surviving gunman in the deadly terrorist attacks in Mumbai in 2008, who was found guilty yesterday in a special Indian court, is due on Thursday (NYT, AJE, AFP, Hindu, The News, Reuters). The prosecution argues that Ajmal Kasab should be executed by hanging, but he could receive life in prison.

Looking forward

Ahead of Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s visit to Washington next week, top U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan Gen. Stanley McChrystal called the Afghan leader a "very reliable partner" and observed that the trip will be watched by the Taliban (WSJ). Karzai’s advisers say one of his main goals for the visit will be getting U.S. President Barack Obama’s support for his plans to negotiate with militant leaders (Wash Post). Yesterday, Karzai appointed a new chief for Afghanistan’s Independent Electoral Commission (Pajhwok).

850 more U.S. military personnel are headed to Afghanistan to train Afghan security forces in order to "help facilitate [U.S.] allies in providing a longer-term answer" to the shortage of trainers, according to a Pentagon spokesman (NYT). NATO commanders are reportedly considering awarding troops for exercising "courageous restraint" in not using force that could endanger civilians (AP). And the AFP has an interesting profile of a would-be suicide bomber who switched his allegiance and now works as an Afghan policeman (AFP).

Drones humor (?)

At last weekend’s White House Correspondents Dinner, Obama commented, "Jonas Brothers are here, they’re out there somewhere. Sasha and Malia are huge fans, but boys, don’t get any ideas. Two words for you: Predator drones. You will never see it coming" (Wash Post, ABC). The joke has drawn some criticism (Atlantic).

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