Los Angeles, May 15 (ANI): Even though Pakistan has been maintaining that there is little evidence that Faisal Shahzad, the confessed Times Square bomber, had received training and was funded by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), US officials are certain that the extremist outfit has expanded its reach beyond the troubled Af-Pak region by developing closer ties with Al-Qaeda.
According to US officials, the TTP and Al-Qaeda, whose leaders are believed to have been hiding in Pakistan's lawless tribal regions along the Afghanistan border, have come closer in the past two years. .S. officials pointed out that the Pakistan government's claim that Shahzad was not assisted by the TTP is primarily aimed at avoiding it being compelled to open a new front against the extremists in North Waziristan, the Taliban's stronghold.
The Los Angeles Times cited US officials, privy to the investigations in the Times Square bombing case, as claiming that Shahzad had actually received several days of training in Mohmand region of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA).
They also revealed that Shahzad had received about 15,000 dollars from the TTP to plot the failed New York bombing.
US officials are also trying to investigate Shahzad's claims regarding meeting the TTP chieftain Hakeemullah Mehsud during his training in North Waziristan.
However, despite growing evidence that Shahzad was in fact trained and assisted by the Paskistan Taliban, US military officials clarified that there are no plans to pile up pressure on Islamabad on the basis of the Time Square case to launch an offensive in North Waziristan.
"There's no effort underway to convince the Pakistanis that they need to accelerate their timetable for North Waziristan," said Captain John Kirby, spokesman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Admiral Mike Mullen. (ANI)