Computer programmer held for NY terror plot


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Computer programmer held for NY terror plot
May 15, 2010 15:39 IST

A computer programmer, who knew Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad, is among the three Pakistani men arrested during investigations into the failed plot. The three men were picked up on Thursday in a series of raids in the Boston suburbs, on New York's Long Island and in New Jersey, as the Federal Bureau of Investigation followed the money trail in the failed attack.

While Mohammad Shafiq Rahman was a computer programmer, the other two were a gas station attendant and a cab driver respectively. They are suspected of funneling money to Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, who left a car packed with explosives in the middle of the popular tourist site on May 1. It is still not clear whether the funds were given to carry out the terrorist act or whether those arrested knew their money was being channelled into a terror act.

The New York Times reported that computer programmer Rahman told his employer days earlier that he knew Shahzad but had not seen him in nearly a decade.

"It's hard. As a matter of fact I happen to know the guy accused of being the bomber in Times Square. I haven't seen him for eight or nine years, but back then he was a pretty simple person, had no dogma, no theory, just went with the flow," Rahman had told his boss, as quoted by the NYT.

"So it's hard for me to understand this, but maybe that's what they look for, what terrorist organisations look for," he added.

The connection with the other two men -- Pir Khan, 43, who until recently drove a cab in the Boston area, and Aftab Khan, who is in his 20s and worked in a gas station in Brookline -- and Shahzad were unclear, the daily said.

Shahzad, 30, was arrested two days after his attempt while trying to escape to Dubai on an Emirates flight. He was apprehended at the John F Kennedy airport and has been charged with terror-related offences.

Last week, US Attorney General Eric Holder had declared that the investigation implicates the Pakistani Taliban in the foiled terror attack. After claiming responsibility for the attack initially, the Pakistan-Taliban had said that they were not involved in this particular terror attempt, but had sent suicide bombers to the US to carry out suicide attacks. Media reports also suggest two men, suspected of being Shahzad's accomplices, have been arrested in Pakistan.

Shahzad worked as a financial analyst and lived in Connecticut with his wife. But his personal and professional life came under strain last year during the financial crisis. Having waived his arraignments rights, Shahzad is cooperating with the authorities.