Feds Arrest 3, Possibly Tied To Bomb PlotMay 14, 2010 - 7:30 AM | by: Mike Levine
Federal authorities have arrested three New England men in connection with the attempted Times Square bombing, Fox News has learned.
FBI and Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents on Thursday morning executed search warrants in “several locations in the Northeast,” a statement from ICE said.
At least two raids were conducted in Boston suburbs, where two of the men were arrested. The third man was arrested in Maine, while search warrants related to the case were also executed in Camden County, N.J., and on Long Island in New York.
Attorney General Eric Holder said late Thursday that the three men are connected to Faisal Shahzad, the 30-year-old Connecticut man who allegedly drove a car bomb into Times Square on May 1. But, Holder said, the exact nature of those connections is still unclear.
“There’s at least a basis to believe that one of the things that they did was provide him with funds,” Holder said.
One source called the raids a “logical next step in the investigation,” after gathering information from Shahzad and elsewhere.
The source said the New England men, all three from Pakistan, may have “unwittingly assisted in some capacity.” In fact, the source said, Shahzad may have duped the men into providing money, but authorities are not ruling out anything at this point.
Authorities are looking at whether Shahzad may have used a “hawala” system to obtain funds for his bomb plot. According to the Justice Department, a “hawala” is an informal “value transfer system” in which money does not pass through the banking system. Instead, funds are transferred to an operator in one country, and corresponding funds, less any fees, are sent to recipients in another country.
The searches are “the product of evidence that has been gathered in the investigation subsequent to the attempted Times Square bombing,” ICE spokeswoman Kelly Nantel said in the statement.
Specifically, one source said, the search warrants are the product of information obtained through interrogations of Shahzad, who has now been charged with five federal offenses, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
Investigators on Thursday collected “a lot of good evidence” that will now have to be analyzed, one source said.
Officials said the searches “do not relate to any known immediate threat to the public or active plot against the United States.”
The New England men have been arrested on “administrative charges” related to immigration violations, which means federal authorities will not advise them of Miranda rights to question them, as is required in criminal cases.
Republicans on Capitol Hill have criticized the Obama administration for “Mirandizing” suspects during several recent terrorism investigations.
One of the men arrested near Boston on Thursday has been charged with overstaying his visa, and the other, identified as Pir Khan, was already the subject of proceedings to remove him from the country, according to one source.
The third man was arrested in Maine, also allegedly for overstaying his visa, a source said.
Federal authorities have not ruled out bringing criminal charges against the New England men.
“We will use every resource available to make sure that anyone found responsible, whether they be in the United States or overseas, is held accountable,” Holder told lawmakers on Thursday. “This is an on-going investigation and … we are actively pursuing all those who were involved in it.”