Three arrested in Times Square bomb probe

Three Pakistani men said to have supplied funds to Times Square car bomb suspect Faisal Shahzad were arrested in a series of raids as the FBI followed the money trail of the failed attack.

Investigators said it was not yet clear whether the three men knew how the money was going to be used.

The men - two seized in the Boston, Massachusetts, area and one in Maine - were arrested as authorities searched homes and businesses in co-ordinated raids in the Boston suburbs, on New York's Long Island and in New Jersey.

They were arrested for immigration offences - administrative, not criminal, charges and were not charged with any terror-related crimes. Their names were not released.

The raids followed evidence gathered in the investigation into the Times Square bomb attempt two weeks ago.

FBI spokeswoman Gail Marcinkiewicz said yesterday there was "no known immediate threat to the public or any active plot against the US".

In Washington, attorney general Eric Holder said investigators believed there was evidence that the men were providing Shahzad, a Pakistan-born US citizen, with money, but they have yet to determine whether the men knew the funds might have been intended for a terrorist act.

A top Massachusetts law enforcement official said investigators were not sure whether the two Boston-area men were willing accomplices or simply moving funds, as is common among people from the Middle East and central Asia who live in the US

"These people might be completely innocent and not know what they were providing money for," the official said, "but it's clear there's a connection."

Republican senator Susan Collins said there was "not a direct tie" between a man arrested in South Portland, Maine, and the car bomb suspect.

Authorities have been investigating whether Shahzad - who authorities say needed only a few thousand dollars to buy the used SUV and the bomb components used in the attempted May 1 attack - was financed from overseas.

A law enforcement official said money was passed to Shahzad through the informal transfer networks known as hawalas.

Muslim immigrants have for years used hawalas, which rely on wire transfers, couriers and overnight mail and are cheaper and quicker than banks, to send cash to their families overseas.

But since the September 11 2001 attacks, authorities have worked to dismantle the system, fearing it allows terrorists to raise and launder money.

Tracking the money to Shahzad through a hawala system would involve interviewing a large number of people and would probably be a more difficult task than tracing funds through more conventional financial networks, the official said.

Two of the men under arrest overstayed their visas and the third was already in removal proceedings, said another law enforcement official.

Shahzad, 30, has waived his right daily to appear in court since his arrest for allegedly trying to blow up a van packed with petrol and propane outside Times Square's busy restaurants and Broadway theatres, US attorney Preet Bharara said.

He is continuing to provide investigators with information.

"We are doing exactly what, I think, people want us to do, and that is to make sure we get all the information we can with respect to any associates he may have, and other information that would help us to prevent anything further from happening in the US," the prosecutor said.

Kifyat Ali, a cousin of Shahzad's father, has called Shahzad's detention "a conspiracy so the (Americans) can bomb more Pashtuns", a reference to a major ethnic group in Peshawar and the nearby tribal areas of Pakistan and south-west Afghanistan.

He has insisted that Shahzad "was never linked to any political or religious party" in Pakistan.

Shahzad, a budget analyst from Bridgeport, Connecticut, returned to the US in February from five months in Pakistan, where authorities say he claimed to have received training in making bombs.

Meanwhile in Washington, a senior military official said Pakistani authorities had arrested a man claiming to be an accomplice of Shahzad.

The official, who spoke anonymously, was unable to say what information the suspect may have provided.

* (Reuters) New York City police cleared several blocks near Union Square overnight to investigate a suspicious vehicle but reopened streets a few hours later when it was determined the car posed no danger, police said.

Local news reports said what appeared to be two gasoline canisters were seen in the back seat, leading police to call in the bomb squad to investigate.

But police gave the "all clear" signal after finding the owner of the car and determining there was no danger, a police spokesman said.

A police captain on the scene, who declined to give his name, said said there was no bomb, "just someone who did something they didn't know it was wrong."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksAn introduction to the ground rules of British democracy
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager - South East & East Anglia

£60500 - £65500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This global leading software co...

Recruitment Genius: Junior IT Technician

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Do you want the opportunity to ...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Support Worker

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Home Care Support Workers needed in the Hastin...

Recruitment Genius: Home Care Support Worker - Car / Bike / Moped Drivers

£7 - £11 per hour: Recruitment Genius: NEW branch opening soon in Worthing fol...

Day In a Page

Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones
Theme parks continue to draw in thrill-seekers despite the risks - so why are we so addicted?

Why are we addicted to theme parks?

Now that Banksy has unveiled his own dystopian version, Christopher Beanland considers the ups and downs of our endless quest for amusement
Tourism in Iran: The country will soon be opening up again after years of isolation

Iran is opening up again to tourists

After years of isolation, Iran is reopening its embassies abroad. Soon, there'll be the chance for the adventurous to holiday there
10 best PS4 games

10 best PS4 games

Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
Transfer window: Ten things we learnt

Ten things we learnt from the transfer window

Record-breaking spending shows FFP restraint no longer applies
Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent