Accused Times Square Bomber Faisal Shahzad linked up with the Pakistani Taliban through the internet, ABC News has been told by law enforcement and intelligence sources close to the investigation. Once the Taliban identified him as more valuable in the U.S. than in Pakistan, they trained him to return to execute his bomb attack.
But according to these sources, Shahzad also had a web of jihadist contacts that included big names tied to terror attacks in the U.S. and abroad, including the figure who has emerged as a central figure in many recent domestic terror attempts - radical American-born Muslim cleric Anwar Awlaki.
Besides Awlaki, sources say Shahzad was also linked to a key figure in the Pakistani Taliban, its Emir Beitullah Mehsud, who was killed in a drone missile strike in 2009. The Mehsuds had been family friends of Shahzad, who is the son of a former high-ranking Pakistani military officer.
Sources told ABC News that Shahzad was childhood friends with one of the alleged masterminds of the Mumbai massacre of 2008, in which more than 170 people died.
Shahzad is also said to be linked to a man named Muhammed Rehan, whom Pakistani authorities reportedly have in custody. Sources said Rehan helped Shahzad travel to Peshawar and then to Waziristan and made introductions to the Taliban.
According to a person briefed on the FBI interrogation, Shahzad has told federal agents that he was angry at the CIA missile strikes carried out in Pakistan and suffered a personal crisis in his life. He has reportedly said he carried out the attempted bombing because he was under duress and that he feared for his family's safety if he didn't fulfill the mission.
Shahzad has admitted to receiving bomb-making training and to loading a car with explosives and driving it into Times Square, say U.S. authorities, and is providing valuable information that is helping officials round up possible accomplices.