Administration Confirms Terror Suspect’s Ties to Taliban
Senior Obama administration officials said Sunday that Times Square terror suspect Faisal Shahzad was acting on behalf of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, a group closely aligned with al-Qaida.
“We know that they helped facilitate it. We know that they probably helped finance it,” Attorney General Eric Holder said on ABC’s “This Week.”
John Brennan, deputy national security adviser at the Department of Homeland Security, echoed this sentiment, saying, “He had extensive interaction with the TTP. … The TTP has been working for al-Qaida for a number of years. Since it was created, they have targeted us.”
In the wake of last week’s attempted attack, Holder said the administration is prepared to work with Congress to amend the Miranda rights system and the public safety exception to make sure officials have enough “flexibility” to deal with international terrorism.
“It is a new priority,” he said.
He also voiced his opposition to legislation introduced last week by Sen. Joe Lieberman (ID-Conn.) that would strip U.S. citizenship from individuals believed by the State Department to have aided a foreign terrorist organization. Holder cited that current law allows for U.S. officials to arrest and imprison terrorists for life.
We can “even execute them,” Holder argued. “One has to wonder if we need to go further than that.” The attorney general also says he is concerned there may be constitutional conflicts with the Lieberman proposal, adding that he hasn’t yet had a chance to fully review the measure.
Lieberman, however, defended his bill. Shahzad became a naturalized U.S. citizen last year.
“I offered this proposal because we’ve seen a pattern now,” Lieberman said on “Fox News Sunday.” “They are looking for American citizens to carry out this work.” He argued that individuals would still be presumed innocent until proven guilty and that the revocation of citizenship would be a process that occurred over time.
Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) said the Times Square incident underscores the challenge the U.S. faces in trying to tamp down terrorism. Shelby, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” said the focus is no longer on large groups, but on individuals fanning out across the country.
Shelby also repeated what many GOP lawmakers have said in the wake of last weekend’s botched attack: America has been lucky.
“Basically, we were lucky, very lucky. But as I said before, luck shouldn’t be our policy. We’ve got to be more diligent,” he said.
But Sen. Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), also speaking on CNN, defended the U.S. response, as well as the actions of the Pakistani government, which he said has been “very aggressive.” However, Nelson was clear that the dangers are growing.
Nelson, who sits on the Intelligence Committee, said the failed Times Square attack demonstrates that the U.S. must expand its focus beyond “young men who are living in other countries” to “young men in our country” who are being radicalized.
“That’s the biggest problem that we’ve got to nip in the bud to protect ourselves on a constant basis every day,” Nelson said.
Erin P. Billings contributed to this report.