Mainer among those arrested in Times Square probe

Posted May 13, 2010, at 3:40 p.m.

WATERTOWN, Mass. — Two Pakistani men suspected of providing money to Times Square car bomb suspect Faisal Shahzad were arrested by the FBI in a series of Thursday morning raids across the Northeast, law enforcement officials said.

The searches in Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey were the product of evidence gathered in the investigation into the Times Square bomb attempt two weeks ago, but there was “no known immediate threat to the public or any active plot against the United States,” FBI spokeswoman Gail Marcinkiewicz said.

Three people were arrested on suspected immigration violations: the two Pakistani men in the Boston area and one person in Maine, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Brian Hale said. All three arrests are administrative and not criminal, he said. The three were not immediately charged with any terrorism-related offenses.

The two Boston-area men had a “direct connection” to Shahzad, a Pakistan-born U.S. citizen, said a top Massachusetts law enforcement official. They are believed to have provided money to him, but investigators weren’t sure whether they were witting accomplices or simply moving funds, as is common among people from the Middle East and Central Asia who live in the U.S., said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

“These people might be completely innocent and not know what they were providing money for, but it’s clear there’s a connection,” the official said.

Authorities are now trying to determine the source of any money that might have been moved to the Boston-area men.

“That’s the focus of the ongoing investigation,” said the official.

All three of the men arrested on suspected immigration violations are Pakistani, according to another law enforcement official. Two of the men have overstayed their visas and the third is already in removal proceedings, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the ongoing investigation and spoke on condition of anonymity.

Police cordoned off a small house in Watertown, a suburb about 10 miles west of Boston, and a neighbor reported seeing an FBI raid there.

A Mobil gas station in Brookline, another Boston suburb, also was raided. The entrances and exits to the station were cordoned off by yellow tape, and FBI agents were going in and out of the building. Agents also searched and removing items from a silver Honda Accord in the parking lot.

The car was registered to Mohammad Zameen, 45, said Ann Dufresne, a spokesman of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. Zameen also is listed as a resident at the apartment in Watertown. No one answered phone calls at his listed number.

Marcinkiewicz said the arrest in Maine was part of the investigation into the Times Square bomb plot, but said she had no additional details about the arrest.

“They’re all connected, but the specifics to Maine I don’t specifically know what they were doing,” she said.

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