The ties between Faisal Shahzad and the Pakistani Taliban, or any other terrorist group, appear to be far less substantial than first thought:
WASHINGTON — No credible evidence has been found so far that the Pakistani-American man accused in the Times Square bombing plot received any serious terrorist training from the Pakistani Taliban or another radical Islamic group, six U.S. officials said Thursday.
“There is nothing that confirms that any groups have been found involved in this for certain,” one U.S. official told McClatchy. “It’s a lot of speculation at this point.”
Faisal Shahzad may have, at the most, had “incidental contact” with a terrorist organization, and he may have been encouraged to act, said one of the officials, who declined to elaborate further.
Four U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials and two other U.S. officials with knowledge of the case spoke only on the condition of anonymity because they weren’t authorized to discuss classified intelligence or the ongoing investigation publicly.
The U.S. intelligence and counterterrorism officials, however, said that the bungled nature of the bombing and the trail of clues that led the FBI to him suggest that he never received even rudimentary terrorist training or instructions on how to evade arrest.
Nor has any credible evidence been uncovered verifying his story of being trained in Waziristan, they and the other U.S. officials said.
“We’ve seen nothing suggesting that Shahzad received even minimal training, and everything about what he did suggests otherwise,” one U.S. official said.
The official cited, among other things, the would-be bomber’s use of the wrong kind of fertilizer and the fact that he made little or no effort to conceal his identity or that of the vehicle he used.
Another U.S. official said that Shahzad hadn’t even removed the plastic caps on the propane tanks’ valves before he abandoned the vehicle.
Nor does it appear that he made plans to escape after leaving the car in an illegal parking space where it was sure to attract attention in an area that one U.S. official said “has about the heaviest police and surveillance presence of any public space in this country.”
None of this should discount the serious fact that Shahzad managed to get what he thought was a bomb into the middle of Times Square in the middle of a early Saturday evening when, had it worked as apparently intended, it would have caused substantial damage and cost many lives. However, it seems pretty clear that this was not so much an act of foreign terrorism as it was an act of attempted terrorism and murder by a naturalized American who may have been influenced, if not directly trained, by a foreign terrorist group.