London, May 12 (ANI): Pakistan and the United States are sparring over whether failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad was working under the direction of the Pakistani Taliban.
While officials in Pakistan have denied the link, senior officials in Washington, including Attorney General, Eric Holder and White House's Special Adviser on Counter-Terrorism John Brennan have said Shahzad conspired with militants in Pakistan.
The Guardian quoted a Pakistani security official with knowledge of the investigation, as saying: "No Taliban link has come to the fore."
The paper said officials in Islamabad are perplexed and angry at statements coming out of Washington about Shahzad's links with the Pakistani Taliban, believing that the US is exploiting the issue to apply pressure for new military offensives in Pakistan's tribal border area with Afghanistan, in the North Waziristan region.
Shahzad, a naturalised American citizen of Pakistani origin, told US interrogators that he had been trained in Waziristan, part of Pakistan's tribal area, according to the court charges laid against him.
Since then, the Pakistani Taliban's official spokesman, Azam Tariq, has twice denied that his group was involved with Shahzad.
The ineptness of Shahzad's bomb, which did not go off, has also raised doubts over whether the Pakistani Taliban could have trained him.
US CENTCOM chief General David Petraeus has already said that Shahzad was a "lone wolf" who was "inspired by militants in Pakistan but didn't have direct contact with them".
A senior Pakistani government official said: "There is a disconnect between the Pentagon and the [Obama] administration. The Pentagon gets it that more open pressure on Pakistan is not helpful."
According to the Washington Post, some American officials are also skeptical about Shahzad being involved with Pakistani insurgent groups, or that they may have played a role in orchestrating the Times Square bombing attempt.
"We need to find out, as quickly as possible, what his connections were and how he was trained," said Republic Senator Christopher S. Bond.
He added that White House statements suggesting a central role by the Pakistani Taliban were based on "suspicions and tenuous connections."
Senate Intelligence committee Chairman Dianne Feinstein said there is a "high likelihood" that Shahzad received some kind of terrorist training in Pakistan. But she said committee members had not been provided with specifics about how the Taliban might have aided the attempted bombing. (ANI)