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Pak detains 6 in Times Square plot
Islamabad, May 22 (DPA/IANS):
Published on 23 May. 2010 12:16 AM IST
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Pakistani authorities have nabbed at least six collaborators of New York bombing suspect Faisal Shehzad, including the co-owner of a catering company that organised events for the US embassy, intelligence officials said.
The arrests made during the last couple of weeks show that Shehzad, the Pakistani-American man held the for botched Times Square bombing, had interacted with the Pakistani extremists.
Those detained include a former army major, an employee of a cell phone company, and a computer expert, Shoaib Mughal, who is running a computer accessories business in Islamabad.
The arrest of Salman Ashraf, who co-owned the upscale Hanif Rajput Catering Service, was of vital importance as he was specially recruited to attack foreign diplomats for whom the company provided services.
A senior intelligence official said on condition of anonymity that Ashraf had access to various embassies and could easily carry out terrorist attacks.
The US embassy also posted a statement on its website warning US diplomats to avoid using servicing of the company for its links with the militants.
The six were part of a ring that facilitated Shehzad’s travel to Pakistan’s tribal areas along Afghanistan border for training and also arranged money for the failed bombing.
Meanwhile, the US has warned that terror groups could have “established links” with an upmarket Pakistani catering firm that security officials said was owned by a suspect arrested after the attempted car bombing in New York’s Times Square.
The suspect, who owned Hanif Rajput Catering Service, was among a group of six people detained in Pakistan since the May 1 New York attempt, a senior Pakistani intelligence officer who gave details on the identities of those arrested told The News.
“This group of six men appeared to be wealthy and educated members of Pak’stan’s small urban e”ite,” the newspaper said.
They included the owner of a large computer shop in Islamabad who allegedly called the prime suspect detained in the US, Pakistani-American Faisal Shahzad, urging him to flee the country.
In an unusual posting on its website that was also e-mailed to Americans in Pakistan, the US embassy said US government personnel had been instructed to avoid using Rajput, a well-known firm that has been used by the US embassy and other foreign missions in the capital.
The posting said Rajput was owned by Rana Ashraf Khan and his son Salman Ashraf Khan.
An embassy official told The News that the information was being shared with US citizens and the Pakistan government because it was required by American law.
Earlier this week, a senior security official had named a suspect arrested in Pakistan over links to Shahzad as Salman Ashraf, whom the intelligence officer confirmed was the owner of Rajput.
The security official said another arrested suspect was a cousin of Salman Ashraf. He said both men were suspected of having financial links with Shahzad.
A man who answered the phone at Rajput declined to comment on the allegations made by the US embassy.
A posting on the Rajput website said Salman Ashraf Khan studied in Houston before returning home to help run the family business.
It said Rana Ashraf Khan worked for Pakistan International Airlines for 20 years and then started the catering firm.

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