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FBI Raids Boston-Area Locations In Times Square Probe

FBI agents search a Mobil station on Harvard Avenue in Brookline. (Adam Ragusea/WBUR)
FBI agents search a Mobil station on Harvard Avenue in Brookline. (Adam Ragusea/WBUR)

For Thursday's throughout-the-day coverage, visit WBUR's blog, Hubbub.


WATERTOWN, Mass. — Two Pakistani men suspected of providing money to Times Square car bomb suspect Faisal Shahzad were arrested by the FBI after raids in Watertown and Brookline on Thursday.

The local raids were part of a broader effort as federal agents executed search warrants in other Northeast locations early Thursday.

A top Massachusetts law enforcement official says the two men are considered to have had a "direct connection" to Shahzad, a Pakistan-born United States citizen, but investigators are not sure whether they were witting accomplices or simply moving funds as is common between Middle Eastern and Central Asian nationals who live in the U.S. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is ongoing.

The official says "these people might be completely innocent and not know what they were providing money for, but it's clear there's a connection."

Authorities are now trying to determine the source of any money that might have been moved to the Boston-area men.

"That's the focus of the ongoing investigation," the official said.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokesman Brian Hale says a third Pakistani male was arrested in Maine. All three were arrested on suspected immigration violations, which are administrative and not criminal charges. The three were not immediately charged with any terrorism-related offenses.

Though FBI spokeswoman Gail Marcinkiewicz did not confirm any addresses early Thursday, police cordoned off a small house located at 39 Waverley Ave. in Watertown. According to the Watertown Assessor's office, the house is owned by Shubh Ramesh Joshi, who lives in Somerville.

FBI agents were also located at a Brookline Mobil gas station at 198 Harvard St., just off Coolidge Corner. The entrances and exits to the station were cordoned off by yellow tape, and FBI agents went in and out of the building. Agents also searched a silver Honda Accord in the parking lot, removing items from the vehicle and loading material into an SUV.

The car was registered to Mohammad Zameen, 45, said Ann Dufresne, a spokesman of the Massachusetts Registry of Motor Vehicles. Zameen also is listed as a resident at the apartment in Watertown. No one answered phone calls at his listed number.

The gas station is owned by Elias Audy. Agents also questioned employees at another Brookline gas station, at the corner of Cypress Street and Route 9, which is also owned by Audy. There was no indication that Audy was the subject of the investigation.

The FBI says the searches were the product of evidence gathered in the investigation and that there is "no known immediate threat to the public or any active plot against the United States."

At an afternoon briefing, Boston Police Commissioner Ed Davis said there is no indication of a continuing plot in Massachusetts or that there is or ever was a threat to the state's residents.

Gov. Deval Patrick, State Police Col. Marian McGovern and Davis said local, state and federal authorities coordinated to keep the men under close surveillance. They also quietly ramped up security at many public events, including the recently completed Marine Week and the series of Boston Celtics and Boston Bruins playoff games that have been taking place in the city. The MBTA is also heightening future patrols across its commuter network.

"I'm satisfied that all appropriate precautions that should have been taken have been taken," Patrick told reporters during a State House news conference.

Watertown Police and Brookline Police have referred comment to the FBI.

Vinny Lacerra, 50, who lives across the street from the house raided in Watertown, said he was in his living room about 6 a.m. when he heard somebody say, "FBI! Put your hands up!"

Lacerra said he looked out his windows and saw 15 to 20 FBI agents with their guns drawn surrounding the house.

He said about 15 minutes later, the agents went inside and came out with one man handcuffed and took him down the street. He also said he saw an agent from Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

"I was surprised to see this because this is what you see on TV," Lacerra said.

Homes were also searched in Centereach and Shirley, N.Y., both on Long Island. In New Jersey, the FBI searched a home in Cherry Hill, N.J., and a print shop in Camden, N.J.

For Thursday's throughout-the-day coverage, visit WBUR's blog, Hubbub.

Updated: Location map of the local FBI searches:

This program aired on May 13, 2010. The audio for this program is not available.

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