Federal agents found the cellphone number of Faisal Shahzad, the man accused of trying to bomb Times Square, written on an envelope that also bore the word "Faisal" in the apartment of a Watertown man who was arrested last week, a government lawyer said today.
Shahzad's cellphone number was also found among the saved numbers on a cellphone believed to belong to Aftab Ali Khan, according to Richard D. Neville, deputy chief counsel for US Immigration and Customs Enforcement in Boston, who spoke during an immigration hearing for Khan in Boston.
Khan, 27, was one of the three Pakistani men arrested in New England last week as part of the investigation into the attempted bombing. Wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, he appeared via video link in US Immigration Court to face charges that his visa expired six months ago. He is now seeking to be allowed to leave the United States, a request that the judge took under advisement.
The statement by Neville was the first time the government has revealed that it allegedly has evidence linking one of the three men arrested to Shahzad. Last week, US Attorney General Eric Holder said investigators believed there was evidence that the three men provided money to Shahzad through an informal money transfer network, but had not determined whether the men knew what Shahzad planned to do.
Khan was arrested along with his roommate after the FBI raided their apartment on Waverley Avenue last Thursday.
Framingham attorney Saher Macarius, who represents both Khan, who worked at a Brookline gas station, and his roommate, Pir Khan, a 43-year-old taxi driver, has said neither of the men had anything to do with the alleged attempt by Shahzad to ignite a car bomb in New York's busy Times Square on May 1.
Speaking to reporters after the hearing, he sought to cast doubt on the alleged connection between his client and Shahzad and questioned why the government hadn't presented evidence such as his client's fingerprint on the envelope or a cellphone bill showing that the cellphone belonged to his client. He said the cellphone that was found might not belong to his client.
He reiterated that Aftab Khan "insisted he has no connection with that gentleman. He never talked with him and he's never seen him."
Macarius had said in an interview prior to the hearing that Aftab Khan worked on a US Army base in Kuwait for five years before coming to the United States last Aug. 17 to marry an American soldier, who then jilted him, which upset him. Macarius said his client was then "blessed" to meet another woman, a 29-year-old teacher he married in Cambridge on Nov. 17 -- the same day his visa expired.
But ICE Special Agent Michael McGonigle painted a less romantic picture of Khan's relationships, saying that investigators had learned that Khan had become "angry and agitated" when dumped by the first woman and had offered her $5,000 to marry him.
McGonigle said the second woman also told agents that she had agreed to a fraudulent marriage for a payment of $1,500 to $2,000 in small amounts over a period of time.
Macarius also had said previously Aftab and Pir Khan attracted the attention of authorities because days before the botched attack in New York they had booked a June 6 flight from New York to Pakistan on the same route as the accused car bomber. He said they had hoped to leave the country, fix their immigration status, then return to the United States.
McGonigle confirmed that Aftab Khan had initially been scheduled to fly out on June 6. But McGonigle said that sometime after Fahzad was arrested in the Times Square bombing, Khan had changed his plans and was planning on leaving last Thursday, the day agents arrested him.
McGonigle also said that Khan had claimed he wasn't married when first questioned by agents in the Watertown home. When they asked him for his passport, he directed them to where his passport was. There they found both the passport and his marriage certificate, he said.
The Khans and a third man, Mohammad Shafiq Rahman, who was arrested in Maine last week, have not been charged criminally, but are all being held on alleged immigration violations.
On Tuesday, an immigration judge in Boston ordered Pir Khan held without bail after a brief hearing in which a government lawyer argued that he had violated immigration law and indicated on immigration documents that he had two wives -- one in Pakistan and one in the United States.
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