Pakistan to charge 3 in Times Square bomb plot

/ Source: msnbc.com news services

Pakistan will soon bring terrorism charges against three men alleged to have helped the failed Times Square bomber meet up with militant leaders close to the Afghan border and send him money to carry out the attack, a senior police officer said Wednesday.

The three have been in custody since soon after the May 1 attempted car bombing, but the announcement marks the first time Pakistani authorities have formally acknowledged their arrest. They had previously been picked up by the country's secretive intelligence agencies.

Authorities evacuated Times Square on May 1 after a Pakistani-American citizen, Faisal Shahzad, attempted to detonate a car bomb. Shahzad has pleaded guilty to 10 federal charges, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

Officials in Pakistan identified the suspects held there as Shoaib Mughal, Shahid Hussain and Humbal Akhtar.

Islamabad Police Deputy Inspector General Bin Yamin did not give specifics about the forthcoming charges, but terrorism crimes can be punished by death in Pakistan. It was unclear if the men had been appointed lawyers yet.

Yamin described the trio as having "militant minds" and a strong hatred for America.

He added that the three suspects had close ties to the leadership of the Pakistani Taliban, a militant group based in the northwest that has claimed responsibility for the plot.

Pakistani Taliban
Shahzad, 30, said he had received bomb-making training and $12,000 from the group in Pakistan to facilitate the bomb attempt.

Yamin said the three helped Shahzad to travel to the northwest and meet militant leaders there.

Intelligence officers have said that up to five people were being held in connection with the plot. It is unclear what will happen to the other two.

Last week, the U.S. government added the Pakistani Taliban to its list of foreign terrorist organizations and set rewards of up to $5 million for information leading to the capture of its leaders, Hakimullah Mehsud and Wali-ur-Rehman. Simultaneously, U.S. prosecutors charged Mehsud for a plot that killed seven CIA employees at a U.S. base in Afghanistan last December.