NEW YORK — The Pakistani Taliban on Thursday denied any role in the botched car bombing in Times Square but praised the suspect for a "brave job," as New York authorities pressed him on his claims of terrorist training.
U.S. law enforcement officials traveled to Pakistan to question four alleged members of another militant group, Jaish-e-Mohammad, about possible connections to Faisal Shahzad, who is charged with terrorism and weapons offenses in the failed bombing, which shut down Times Square and unnerved tourists and theatergoers on a busy Saturday night.
The 30-year-old Shahzad — a former budget analyst who had been living in a low-rent Bridgeport, Conn., apartment since returning from a five-month trip to Pakistan — is in custody and talking to investigators. They are trying to trace his movements in his homeland and find out whether he is connected to foreign terrorist groups.
"He's being cooperative," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said, adding that investigators want to find out if "what he's saying is in fact the truth."
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A senior State Department official said the administration would be asking Pakistan to take "significant" actions based on what Shahzad has been telling investigators about his visits to the country.
Federal officials are investigating how Shahzad paid his rent and financed the bomb plot since he returned from Pakistan with no apparent job. He paid for the used SUV with 13 $100 bills. Officials have been investigating if Shahzad received money from militant groups — including the Pakistani Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the bombing, a law enforcement official has told the Associated Press.
The group on Thursday reversed that earlier position, with one spokesman saying the Pakistani Taliban had nothing to do with the attempted bombing, but adding: "Such attacks are welcome."
"We have no relation with Faisal. However, he is our Muslim brother," Taliban spokesman Azam Tariq told the AP in Pakistan by telephone. "We feel proud of Faisal. He did a brave job."