Thursday, May 13, 2010

Breaking: Watertown Raid Connected to Times Square Bomber

The FBI raided a home in Watertown Thursday morning in connection with the Times Square bomb plot investigation.

FBI spokesperson Gail Marcinkiewicz told WBZ the raid was one of several being conducted in the northeast United States in the probe.

"The searches are a product of evidence that has been gathered in the investigation subsequent to the Times Square bombing investigation," she said.

Marcinkiewicz added that there is "no known immediate threat to the public or any active plot against the United States."

She said two people were taken into custody for "immigration violations" in the raids, but would not say if they were involved in the incident at a home on Waverly Avenue near Summer Street in Watertown.

UPDATE: CNN) -- Raids by federal agents in Massachusetts, New York and New Jersey on Thursday are focused on a system of "cash couriers" who bring money into the United States from overseas, a source close to the investigation said.

Authorities were searching several locations in the Northeast on Thursday as part of their probe into the failed Times Square car bombing earlier this month, an FBI spokeswoman said.
Investigators searched locations in and around Boston, Massachusetts, and in New York and New Jersey, a federal law enforcement source said.

Three people were taken into custody for alleged immigration violations during the searches, according to a U.S. official. Earlier, FBI spokeswoman Gail Marcinkiewicz in Boston said two people had been detained. A second federal law enforcement source said those two have no direct connection to the Times Square bombing investigation, and their arrests were considered "collateral."

Some of the money allegedly ferried by the cash couriers is thought to have been made available to finance operations like the abortive Times Square attack. The source close to the investigation said two individuals have been under surveillance at least since Wednesday, but could not confirm that they were two of the three individuals arrested in the raids.

The source said there is no direct evidence connecting those under surveillance to the Times Square attempted bombing, but they are being investigated for possible links.

"These searches are the product of evidence that has been gathered in the investigation since the attempted Times Square bombing and do not relate to any known immediate threat to the public or active plot against the United States," Attorney General Eric Holder told the House Judiciary Committee on Thursday. "I share that information just to indicate that this is an ongoing investigation and that we are actively pursuing all those who were involved in it."

One of the searches took place in Watertown, Massachusetts, according to a federal law enforcement official. CNN affiliate WCVB-TV reported that two people were taken into custody in

WCVB: Massachusetts pair arrested
A Watertown resident who lives near the home where the search warrant was executed told WCVB he was sitting in his living room watching television at about 6 a.m. when he "heard an FBI agent scream, saying 'Don't move' or 'Put your hands up,' something like that."

"I thought I was dreaming, actually, because in a small town, who would think, you know, that you'd hear an FBI person?" said the man, who did not give his name in the interview posted on WCVB's website.

When he looked out the window, he said, he saw 15 or 20 FBI agents lined up, with their guns drawn and pointing at the house. He said after a few minutes, a couple of agents went inside the house. "I was expecting to hear gunshots or something, you know, but there wasn't ever any gunshots," he said.

After a few minutes, agents brought a man out in shackles, put him in a car and drove away, the man said. He said he'd never seen the man before, but noted that new residents have moved into the home every few years.

Photos from Watertown showed yellow police crime scene tape around a large white Colonial-style house. The photos were taken by, a local news website.

One photo showed a man in an FBI shirt talking with two other men. Another showed a man walking out of the house holding a plastic bag that appeared to contain an electronic or computer-related device or accessory.

Another search unfolded in Brookline, Massachusetts, where police were helping the FBI search a Mobil gas station on Harvard Street, said Lt. Philip Harrington of the Brookline Police Department.

Video from CNN affiliate WHDH-TV of Boston showed apparent law enforcement officers at the gas station. They were examining a parked gray four-door sedan, its two front doors and trunk open.
WHDH: FBI executes search warrants in Boston area

Diane Chung, who manages a Japanese fusion restaurant across from the gas station, said investigators were swarming the scene when she got to the restaurant around 9:30 a.m. She said the gas station was completely blocked off.

She said she hadn't seen authorities bringing anyone out of the gas station and hasn't seen them enter any other businesses in the area.

Michael Sobelman, owner of Michael's Deli on Harvard Street, took a stroll down the street to check out what he said was rare commotion along the retail and commercial stretch.
"You can see them taking stuff out," he said. "You'd never have thunk something like this is going on."

News media and police packed the area as three or four helicopters hovered over the scene. Sobelman said he saw the FBI load vehicles with material from the gas station.

"I'm shocked that it could happen in an affluent community like this," Sobelman said. "I tip my hat to the FBI and praise them for their work and their diligence and looking behind the scenes into everything."

A search warrant was also being executed in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, according to J.J. Klaver, FBI spokesman in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. No one was in custody. A federal law enforcement source said the raid was being conducted at a business called Prompt Printing in Cherry Hill.
Shahzad, a 30-year-old Pakistani American, is the only person charged in the May 1 attempted bombing at Times Square.

He was arrested while trying to fly out of New York two days after he allegedly attempted to set off a car bomb in the always-crowded tourist hotspot. The bomb failed to detonate.

Shahzad has been charged with five counts in connection with the case.
According to court documents, he admitted to law enforcement officials that he attempted to detonate the bomb and that he recently received bomb-making training in the Waziristan region of Pakistan.

Court documents also said that Shahzad returned to the United States via a one-way ticket from Pakistan on February 3. He had told immigration officials upon his return that he had been visiting his parents in Pakistan for the previous five months, the complaint said.
Holder said Shahzad was working with the Pakistani Taliban.

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