BOSTON (AP) — Two Pakistani men arrested in Massachusetts on alleged immigration violations during the investigation into the failed Times Square bomb plot had no connection to the primary suspect and may have been arrested because all three men booked similar travel, the attorney for the two men said.
Attorney Saher Macarius said Thursday that Pir Khan, a taxi driver, and Aftab Khan, a gas station attendant, had never heard of Faisal Shahzad before they were arrested.
Federal authorities have said they believe the men funneled money to Shahzad through an informal money transfer network, but may not have known how the money would be used.
Macarius said he believes they were targeted because, several days before the failed May 1 car bomb attempt, they each booked flights from New York to Pakistan using the same route that Shahzad was planning to fly on the day he was arrested.
Shahzad was taken into custody on a Dubai-bound plane from John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York. Pir Khan and Aftab Khan had booked flights from JFK, with a stop in Dubai, for June 6, Macarius said.
“Both of them are leaving and going together to Pakistan,” Macarius said of the Khans. “Of course, because the aircraft is going through Dubai, now people think they are following the footsteps of the Times Square bomber.”
The Khans lived together in Watertown, and friends have said the two are distantly related. They were planning to return to Pakistan to try to correct their immigration status and wanted to return to the United States, Macarius said.
Macarius said Aftab Khan worked as a civilian employee on a U.S. Army base in Kuwait for several years before coming to the United States in August. He said Khan worked for a company that brought food and supplies to the base.
Macarius said Khan met an American soldier on the base who agreed to marry him. He said Khan was issued a visa to travel to Colorado for their wedding, but when he arrived, the woman broke off their engagement. Khan married a teacher in Cambridge in November, Macarius said. Authorities have said he was arrested because of an expired visa.
Aftab Khan was set to go before a judge Thursday in U.S. Immigration Court to ask to be released on bail.
On Tuesday, an immigration judge ordered Pir Kahn held without bail.
A third man, Mohammad Shafiq Rahman, was arrested in Maine as part of the investigation. All three New England men are being held on immigration charges and have not been charged criminally.