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Updated: May 19, 2010 19:03 IST

Top U.S. intelligence officials in Pakistan for NYC bomb investigation

Narayan Lakshman
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CIA Director Leon Panetta. File Photo: AP
AP CIA Director Leon Panetta. File Photo: AP

The United States has sent two of its top intelligence officials to Pakistan to put greater pressure on its government to investigate the Pakistani connection to the failed Times Square bomb plot of May 2.

In the clearest indication of deep concern in the U.S. over the link between would-be bomber Faisal Shahzad and terror networks in Pakistan, Central Intelligence Agency Director Leon Panetta and National Security Advisor James L. Jones flew out to Pakistan on Monday night in a bid to speed up the investigation.

According to reports quoting administration officials, Mr. Panetta and Mr. Jones plan to discuss efforts to prevent future terrorist attacks in their meetings there. Reports also cited the U.S. government’s intention to ensure “continued Pakistani cooperation in determining what role the Pakistani Taliban may have played in assisting Faisal Shahzad,” the suspected bomber, who is now in custody and providing intelligence on terror networks in Pakistan to U.S. officials.

In this context, National Security Council spokesman Mike Hammer said in an email on Monday night: “In light of the failed Times Square terrorist attack and other terrorist attacks that trace to the border region, we believe that it is time to redouble our efforts with our allies in Pakistan to close this safe haven and create an environment where we and the Pakistani people can lead safe and productive lives.”

In particular, Washington was said to be keen on an aggressive push by Pakistani authorities to take action against al-Qaeda and groups linked to it, located in the tribal areas.

In a report by the New York Times, one senior administration official was quoted as saying that Mr. Jones “would not threaten the Pakistanis, but would convey the risks to the country’s relationship with the U.S. if a deadly terrorist attack originated there.” He would also “prod them” to take tougher steps against the Taliban and other insurgent groups, the official reportedly said.

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