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Lone wolf or group plot? Feds say it'll take time

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[May 07, 2010]  WASHINGTON (AP) -- The White House sidestepped questions about whether the attempted Times Square bomber was linked to foreign terror groups Thursday as the FBI sought to tamp down reports that it had either confirmed or disproved such connections.

Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistan-born U.S. citizen accused of carrying out Saturday's failed attack, has told authorities he received training at a terror camp in Pakistan.

The FBI is investigating whether that claim is true and is trying to figure out if the bombing was financed or supported by one of several terrorist or militant groups in Pakistan's lawless tribal region.

If the bomb was sponsored by a foreign group, it would be a nearly catastrophic reminder that overseas terror organizations can still reach into the United States nearly a decade after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

President Barack Obama had a previously scheduled meeting with his top counterterrorism advisers Thursday about Afghanistan and Pakistan.

But citing the ongoing investigation, spokesman Robert Gibbs would not say if Times Square came up in that meeting. He also would not explain whether the administration viewed Shahzad as a lone wolf or a terrorist group's operative.

The 30-year-old former budget analyst was arrested Monday night on board a plane bound for the United Arab Emirates.

FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said investigators have not yet determined whether Shahzad acted alone or as part of an international plot.

"The FBI investigation is going to take a significant amount of time, and although theories may be developed or floated by the media, it's our job to verify the facts," Kolko said. "These are complicated issues involving overseas liaisons, analysis of evidence and countless interviews."

Officials told The Associated Press Thursday that Shahzad is still talking and he maintains he did it on his own. They spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation.

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The Pakistani Taliban initially took credit for the attack, then said it had not trained Shahzad.

Pakistani officials are questioning four alleged members of Jaish-e-Mohammad, a militant group linked to al-Qaida, about possible ties to Shahzad, intelligence officials said Thursday.

Gibbs said he was pleased with Pakistan's cooperation.

He also said he's heard no support within the administration for a bill introduced by Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Conn., and Scott Brown, R.-Mass, that would strip suspected terrorists of their U.S. citizenship. That would allow authorities to prosecute terrorism cases in military commissions. U.S. citizens cannot be charged in military commissions.

[Associated Press; By MATT APUZZO]

Associated Press writers Kimberly Dozier in Washington and Kathy Gannon and Ashraf Khan in Karachi, Pakistan, contributed to this report.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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