Pakistani with ties to Taliban arrested in NY bomb plot

The connection to the Taliban is being denied by the Pakistanis, who are also denying that alleged bomber Shahzad traveled to the NWFP of Waziristan for bomb training.

But the statements of the suspect caught in Pakistan would seem to indicate at least some connection to the Pakistani Taliban:

U.S. officials declined to identify the suspect in Pakistan, but said American investigators have had direct access to him, and described him as a facilitator for the Pakistani Taliban.

U.S. investigators have pieced together their understanding of the Times Square plot largely by comparing the man's accounts with those of Shahzad. The broad outlines of their stories have been consistent, officials said, describing Shahzad's arrival in Karachi last year and his travel north to Waziristan for training with elements of the Pakistani Taliban.

But a second U.S. official briefed on the progress of the case said there are some "conflicts, disconnects" in their accounts. The discrepancies center mainly on the details and chronology of Shahzad's travel and training. Officials said the conflicts have raised some questions about the reliability of the suspects' information, but have not cast significant doubt on the overall understanding of the plot.

U.S. officials said they also think Shahzad and the man may have exaggerated their accounts. Both said they met Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud while being brought into the organization's inner core. But U.S. analysts are skeptical that Mehsud, who narrowly survived a Predator strike earlier this year, would risk meeting face-to-face with an unproved American recruit.

Three other men were arrested and are accused of helping Shahzad financially. The "cell" seems very loose indeed and I wonder after all is said and done if the nexus of the plot will involve Imam Awlaki, who is currently hiding out in Yemen.

Regardless, the Pakistani army is still reluctant to take on the Taliban in their strongholds, citing danger to civilians. The real danger is that if they are left alone long enough, their expertise will improve and the next attack on America will be more successful.

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