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Arrests in Pakistan over NY Attempt

Five men are reported to have been arrested by security officials in Pakistan, in connection with Saturday's attempted car bombing in New York City's Times Square.

"Intelligence officials arrested two in the city of Karachi in the southern city of Punjab and three more in Faisalabad," Kamal Hyder, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Pakistan, said on Tuesday.

Earlier on Tuesday, US authorities arrested a US citizen of Pakistani origin, identified as Faisal Shahzad, in connection with the attempt.

"Shahzad's father-in-law was also one of those arrested," Hyder said.

"It would be interesting to see if there are any links between all these arrests and whether they will be able to get any clues."

The department of justice said that Shahzad was arrested when he tried to board a flight from New York's John F Kennedy airport headed to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates.

"The FBI's quick action was critical as he was arrested in JFK as he attempted to flee," Eric Holder, the US attorney general, said.

"We also coordinated with everyone to ensure the arrests of everyone that is responsible for this."

Court appearance

US law-enforcement officials said Shahzad, 30, would appear in court later in the day to face charges "for allegedly driving a car bomb into Times Square on the evening of May 1".

Barack Obama, the US president, said that the FBI and other authorities are investigating the suspect for possible connection to terrorist groups.

"They have all the tools and experience they need to learn everything we can and that includes what, if any connection, this individual has to terrorist groups," Obama said during a live statement from Washington DC on Tuesday.

He said that the attack was a sobering reminder of current security threats, but vowed that "as Americans and as a nation we will not be terrorised."

Holder said that the investigation into the failed bombing "is ongoing, it is multifaceted and it is aggressive".

"But it's clear that the intent behind this terrorist act was to kill Americans," he said.

Hyder said that reports from Pakistan confirmed that Shahzad had an ID card issued from Karachi and his family lived in a middle class neighbourhood.

"What is important is that around the same time the attack was discovered, the Taliban in Pakistan immediately took responsibility and a video tape with open threats was released within 24 hours," Hyder said from Peshawar.

Pakistan to co-operate

Rehman Malik, Pakistan's interior minister, said that they will co-operate with American officials in their investigation.

John Terret, Al Jazeera's correspondent in New York, said that custom officials had recognised him from pictures which must have been circulated to US authorities and not released to the media.

"There is some doubt to whether Faisal Shahzad was arrested on the plane or whether the plane was pulled back as it was started to get ready for take off," Terret said.

"He is now under federal arrest and will appear in court in Manhattan later today, he is accused of driving the SUV into Time Square on Saturday night, laden with bomb equipment."

Kimberly Mertz, an FBI agent, said that a home believed to Shahzad's, in Bridgeport, Connecticut, was searched early on Tuesday.

"He's claimed to have acted alone, but these are things that have to be investigated," an official said.

"Faisal was born in Pakistan and was naturalised as an American citizen less than a year ago," Terret said.

Flight recalled

Dubai-based Emirates confirmed on Tuesday that flight EK202, scheduled to leave New York for Dubai at 11pm local time Monday night, was called back by authorities shortly before taking off.

"Three passengers were removed from the flight," a spokesperson for the airline said.

EK202 was the only flight scheduled to leave New York for Dubai on Monday night, implying that Shahzad was one of the passengers removed. Emirates wouldn't disclose the identities of the other two passengers.

US media reported earlier quoting law-enforcement sources that the suspect, who had recently travelled to Pakistan, was a Connecticut resident and apparently paid cash for the vehicle found in Times Square.

The four-wheel-drive vehicle, a Nissan Pathfinder, was rigged with a crude propane-and-petrol bomb.

The registered owner of the vehicle had told police on Monday that he had sold it three weeks ago without any paperwork to a man in his late 20s or early 30s.

 Source: Al Jazeera and agencies
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