Times Square attack not a 'one-off,' but was carried out 'on behalf of' Taliban

Two key U.S. officials said on the Sunday morning shows that the Times Square bomber was working for the Taliban in Pakistan.

Deputy National Security Adviser John Brennan, on "Fox News Sunday," said that Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-born naturalized American citizen being held in the attack, was "operating on behalf of" Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan.

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Brennan confirmed that "yes, we do" believe Shahzad was trained by the group, and "it appears as though he was funded" by the TTP in attempting to defuse an SUV bomb in the busy New York tourist haven last weekend.

"They have targeted U.S. interests," Brennan said, noting that the group was "closely allied" with al-Qaeda. "This is something that that has been on their agenda."

Brennan reiterated "it's looking like the TTP was responsible for this attack" on CNN's "State of the Union" while panning the explosive device that smoked -- alerting nearby T-shirt vendors to call authorities -- but did not detonate.

"It's a very difficult challenge because of our success in degrading the capabilities of these terrorists overseas, preventing them from carrying out these attacks," he said. "They now are relegated in trying to do these unsophisticated attacks."

In remarks released early from ABC's “This Week,” Attorney General Eric Holder also pointed to TTP links.

“We’ve now developed evidence that shows that the Pakistani Taliban was behind the attack,” Holder said.

Holder's remarks contrast with what other Cabinet secretaries had said last Sunday, when Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano described the attack as "one off."


But Holder repeated Sunday's new administration line, saying that Shahzad was working at the direction of the Taliban.

"We know that they helped facilitate it," the attorney general said. "We know that they probably helped finance it. And that he was working at their direction.”

"I don't think it's an intent to play down" the gravity of the attack, Brennan said when asked about the "one-off" characterization on Fox, adding that Napolitano was "trying to engage the American public" and "send a reassuring message" as the investigation unfolded.

Shahzad was arrested late Monday evening at New York's JFK airport, where he was attempting to travel to Dubai. Since then, Shahzad has been said to be yielding valuable intelligence for U.S. officials.

"We're learning things from him," Brennan said on CBS on Sunday. "We're learning things from other investigative leads that we have been able to uncover and I am hopeful that we will be able to find more in the days ahead."

Brennan noted on Fox that Shahzad citizenship allowed him to travel back and forth to Pakistan "numerous times," and that the U.S. would continue working closely with the Pakistani government to rein in extremists.

"We're going to maintain the pressure we're putting on al-Qaeda and these groups in Pakistan," he said. On CBS' "Face the Nation," Brennan said "there are individuals who have been identified as being complict in this" when asked about arrests in Pakistan.

Brennan, on CNN, also didn't rule out the possiblity of more arrests in the U.S. in connection with the case.

"[We're] making a lot of progress and we will make additional progress and I am confident [that we will] uncover those individuals who collaborated with him," he said. "I see there is an ongoing investigation that is uncovering information that will help us understand what we faced in Times Square and what else might be out there."

This story was updated at 11:20 a.m.