NBC News and news services
updated 9/30/2010 10:52:12 AM ET 2010-09-30T14:52:12

An employee at Pakistan's state-run Islamic advisory body has been detained for allegedly playing an important role in assisting the failed New York Times Square car bomber, an intelligence officer said Thursday.

The suspect allegedly accompanied Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistan-American bomber, to Pakistan's northwest to meet militant leaders, said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the intelligence agency does not permit its operatives to be named in the media.

Identified as Faisal Abbasi, the suspect was with Shahzad throughout his time in Pakistan, the officer said. He said Abbasi worked for the government's Council of Islamic Ideology, which advises on Islamic affairs.

The secretary general of the council confirmed Abbasi had worked there but had been on "vacation" for the last three months.

Pakistan has already charged three men with assisting Shahzad while in Pakistan and sending him money in America.

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Abbasi's detainment comes as a militant plot to stage coordinated attacks in Europe has been disrupted in its early stages by drone strikes in Pakistan.

Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani made assurances Thursday that his country will help foil any terror plot if actionable intelligence is provided, NBC News reported. Gilani made the pledge during a talks with CIA director Leon Panetta in Islamabad.

The prime minister also expressed his government's concern about the increasing drone attacks in the country, including a NATO air strike Thursday at a border checkpoint that killed three Pakistani soldiers.

Story: Pakistan blocks NATO trucks after deadly strike

Pakistan blocked a vital supply route for U.S. and NATO troops in Afghanistan on in apparent retaliation for the cross-border helicopter strike. Coalition forces claimed it was in self-defense, NBC News reported, and military officials are working together to investigate the incident.

Prosecutors want life sentence for Shahzad
As for the thwarted Times Square plot, Shahzad is due to be sentenced in the United States on Oct. 5. U.S. prosecutors said Wednesday they are seeking life in prison for Shahzad, and revealed he had allegedly planned a second attack.

Shahzad pleaded guilty in June to the failed bombing on May 1 in busy Midtown Manhattan. He was arrested aboard a Dubai-bound plane, minutes before it was due to leave New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Shahzad admitted he received training in bomb-making from the Pakistani Taliban, called Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, and said they had funded the failed attack.

Court documents made public Wednesday revealed Shahzad had told investigators he thought his bomb would have killed at least 40 people, and that he had planned to carry out a second bombing attack two weeks later. The target of the second attack was not identified in the documents.

The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.


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