By Bryan Bender, Globe Staff
WASHINGTON _ The commander of US and allied forces in Afghanistan said today that the widening investigation into the attempted car bombing in New York's Times Square suggests a growing ability of terrorists and other radical groups in Pakistan to orchestrate attacks far from their base of operations.
The prime suspect in the bombing, Pakistani-born Faisal Shahzad, is believed to have links to the Taliban based in Pakistan, where he recently traveled to the large swath of territory on its western frontier with Afghanistan that has become a refuge for the group as well as Al Qaeda and other Muslim radicals.
"I think what this does point out...is the rise of extremist groups, whether it is [the Pakistani Taliban], or Al Qaeda or others," McChrystal told reporters at the Pentagon. "They all represent, to some degree or another, the ability to generate threats that can go outside the local area where they are."
Commenting on the latest developments in the Times Square investigation, including a series of arrests earlier today in Massachusetts, Maine and on New York's Long Island, McChrystal said that if the alleged connections with Pakistan's lawless tribal areas pan out there will be greater pressure on the government of Pakistan to act.
"This highlight how important it is for them" to take on the Taliban insurgents, McChrystal said of the Pakistani government.
The United States has stepped up covert operations against Taliban and Al Qaeda leaders in Pakistan recent months, including a flurry of drone attacks orchestrated by the Central Intelligence Agency.
But the bulk of US military and intelligence resources, including over 100,000 combat troops, are trained on the Taliban in Afghanistan, an allied yet distinct group from the movement in Pakistan.
About Political Intelligence
Glen Johnson is Politics Editor at boston.com and lead blogger for "Political Intelligence." He moved to Massachusetts in the fourth grade, and has covered local, state, and national politics for over 25 years. E-mail him at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globeglen.