* Pakistani Taliban tied to failed May 1 Times Square bomb
* 'Terrorist' designation would lead to punitive measures
* Five Democratic senators urge Clinton to make the move
(Adds more from State Department spokesman)
By Sue Pleming
WASHINGTON, May 11 The U.S. State Department
said on Tuesday it was looking into putting the Pakistani
Taliban, the group tied to the failed car bombing in New York's
Times Square, on the U.S. list of "foreign terrorist" groups.
Adding the Pakistani Taliban to the list would trigger
punitive measures such as freezing assets tied to the group,
barring foreign nationals with links to it from entering the
United States and making it a crime to give any material help.
"It is something we are considering in light of what
happened, and obviously the investigation will yield
information that might give us greater clarity," State
Department spokesman P.J. Crowley told reporters.
Crowley said there was a lengthy legal process before a
group could be designated a "foreign terrorist organization"
and he did not know when a decision would be made.
"We have been focused on this group for some time and,
without being specific, we have been working with our Pakistani
counterparts and we have taken appropriate action to diminish
the capabilities of this group and others in the region,"
Crowley said, referring to military action to target Pakistani
Faisal Shahzad, 30, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in
Pakistan, was arrested two days after authorities say he parked
a sport utility vehicle packed with a bomb in New York's busy
Times Square on May 1.
Five Democratic U.S. senators sent a letter to Secretary of
State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday urging her to ensure the
Pakistani Taliban was on the list.
"The Pakistani Taliban is a murderous organization
dedicated to killing civilians, harming U.S. interests in the
region and has even taken credit for terrorist acts committed
on U.S. soil," the senators wrote.
The Pakistani Taliban, known as the Tehrik-e-Taliban
Pakistan (TTP), on May 2 claimed responsibility for the
attempted bombing. [ID:nLDE6410IH]
On Sunday, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder said there was
evidence the group was behind the crude bomb attempt.
There are 45 groups on the U.S. list of "foreign terrorist
organizations," including al Qaeda and the Palestinian group
Hamas. Designations need to be renewed every two years.
The al Qaeda-linked TTP is an alliance of factions and has
killed many hundreds of people in bomb attacks.
The five senators -- Charles Schumer, Frank Lautenberg, Kay
Hagan, Kirsten Gillibrand and Robert Menendez -- said the group
has committed atrocities aimed at nongovernmental organization
workers, government officials and civilians.
Putting the group on the list would help curtail support
for its activities and pressure others to stop logistical,
financial and political support for it, the senators said.
U.S. officials in recent days have praised Pakistani
efforts against militants, but Clinton raised eyebrows over the
weekend when she told the CBS television network that there
would be "severe consequences" if a successful attack in the
United States were traced to Pakistan. [ID:nN07107047]
Since then, U.S. officials have sought to play down
Clinton's comments. Richard Holbrooke, the U.S. special
representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, told reporters
that Clinton's comments had been "not fully understood."
Crowley repeated on Tuesday that Washington was satisfied
with Islamabad's cooperation on the investigation into the
Pakistani Taliban's possible involvement in the Times Square
"We've seen a sea change of attitudes within Pakistan over
the last couple of years," said Crowley.
The State Department list of "foreign terrorist
organizations" is posted on the Internet here
(Editing by Mohammad Zargham)