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Thursday, May 20, 2010
NewsCrimeFaisal Shahzad's friend and relative nabbed in Pakistan in connection to failed Times Square bombing

Faisal Shahzad's friend and relative nabbed in Pakistan in connection to failed Times Square bombing

Saturday, May 15th 2010, 4:00 AM

Faisal Shahzad, accused of attempting to blow up Times Square, received $4,000 for the plot at this Ronkonkoma Dunkin' Donuts.
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Faisal Shahzad, accused of attempting to blow up Times Square, received $4,000 for the plot at this Ronkonkoma Dunkin' Donuts.

A relative and a friend of the accused Times Square bomber were both busted in Pakistan Friday as officials continued chasing the money trail in the botched attack.

With three Pakistani nationals in custody in New England and three more in their homeland, authorities were still investigating the $4,000 payoff to Faisal Shahzad at a Long Island Dunkin' Donuts.

Uri Back, owner of the franchise where Shahzad collected the cash to finance his plot, said they were providing the FBI with surveillance tapes from the Ronkonkoma store. There are eight cameras in the outlet - six in the front and two in the storage room.

Shahzad, 30, drove from his Connecticut home to meet the cash courier.

"Hopefully they're going to get what they're going to get," Back told the News. "I'm happy to help any way I can."

Back added that he wasn't surprised to hear his suburban franchise was selected for the money drop. "It's an easy place to do exchanges," he said. "I'm not shocked because it just happened to be in the Dunkin' Donuts. It could have happened anywhere."

The two suspects grabbed in Pakistan reportedly helped Shahzad finance his failed plot to detonate an explosives-packed SUV in Times Square. One was identified as a relative of the accused terrorist, while the other was described as a Shahzad friend, a senior Pakistani military source told the News. A third Shahzad associate in Pakistan was cooperating with investigators, the source said.

A U.S. official told the News there were "plausible links" emerging between Shahzad and the Pakistan Taliban. "Not just financial ties," the official said. "Money may have been a factor in this, but there appears to also be a big ideological factor in his motivation."

Shahzad told investigators after his arrest that he received bomb-making training in his native Pakistan.

The man arrested in Maine during Thursday's four-state synchronized FBI sweep was identified Friday as Mohammad Shafiq Rachman, a computer programmer who worked with Shahzad nearly a decade ago.

Rachman's boss, Larry Alderstein of Portland-based Artist and Craftsman Supply, said the programmer mentioned his long-ago link to Faisal after the May 1 bombing try. "I know the fellow who they claim is responsible for the attempted bomb in Times Square," Alderstein quoted Rachman as saying.

Rachman told his boss he hadn't seen Shahzad for eight or nine years and described him as a "simple, uncomplicated man with no strong ideas." The South Portland resident was recently married to an American woman, Alderstein said.

Rachman and the two men arrested Thursday in suburban Massachusetts were held on immigration violations.

lmcshane@nydailynews.com

With Beverly Ford in Watertown, Mass.

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