THREE PAKISTANIS ARRESTED AS FBI RAIDS MASSACHUSETTS, NEW JERSEY AND LONG ISLAND IN TIMES SQUARE FAILED BOMBING INCIDENT…
Faisal Shahzad Times Square bomb plot probe: FBI arrest 3 after raids on Mass., N.J., L.I. locations
Originally Published:Thursday, May 13th 2010, 9:25 AM
Updated: Thursday, May 13th 2010, 4:58 PM
The suspects are being held on immigration charges for now but investigators are probing "what connections they have to Times Square," a federal source said.
That includes the possibility of steering money to accused terrorist Faisal Shahzad to fund his botched plot to kill tourists and theater-goers in Times Square, the source said.
Shahzad also used a disposable cell phone to take four calls from Pakistan on the day he bought the $1,300 SUV that was later loaded with explosives and parked on W. 45th St., officials said.
The agents hit at a half-dozen spots in a series of synchronized raids in Massachusetts, New Jersey and Long Island. Two suspects were busted in Massachusetts, while the third was arrested in Maine, said U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Brian Hale.
None faced any immediate criminal charges.
The raids on a gas station and a home outside Boston were tied to friends of Shahzad, who was arrested two days after the failed plot, sources told the Daily News.
Nearly two dozen agents with their guns drawn descended on the home in Watertown, Mass. One man was led out in handcuffs before agents seized computers and paperwork, neighbors said.
The locations were identified as part of the ongoing investigation into the failed May 1 plot, officials said.
Ashim Chakraborry, a live-in landlord in Centereach, said a dozen FBI agents arrived at her home with car tires squealing around 7:30 a.m. They questioned her Pakistani-born tenant and his wife for four hours, and searched the couple’s car and a shed in the rear of their two-story house.
After the agents left, a woman inside the first-floor apartment screamed at reporters to go away. "We’ve done nothing wrong!" she howled. "Go find the real terrorists!"
Chakraborry, 49, said she doubted her tenants had any terrorist links. "He’s a very good guy," the landlord said. "He’s a very hard-working man who takes care of his daughter."
The Long Island raids involved a hunt for the courier who provided Shahzad with money for his May 1 plot to blow up an SUV in the Crossroads of the World, sources told the News.
The suspect remained at large, a source told the News. But the raids did produce three arrests, all for alleged immigration violations, federal officials said.
The FBI cordoned off a home in Watertown, Mass., a suburb of Boston, with sources indicating friends of Shahzad had stayed at that address.
Vinny Lacerra, 50, who lives across the street, said 15 to 20 FBI agents with guns drawn flanked the house around 6 a.m. "FBI! Put your hands up!" he heard them shout. The agents went inside, and came out 15 minutes later with a man in handcuffs.
"I was surprised to see this because this is what you see on TV," Lacerra said.
The man in custody worked at the gas station and lived in the home, and was reportedly a native of Pakistan, officials said. The family that owns the station was quick to deny any link to the terror probe. "It has nothing to do with our gas station, or our family or our business," one family member said. "They made a big mistake."
While details were scarce about how the raid sites were identified, bombing suspect Shahzad was still cooperating with federal investigators.
He started talking after his arrest while trying to flee the country, and hasn’t stopped, U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Thursday.