By Mark Pratt
WATERTOWN, Mass. — A law enforcement official familiar with the investigation into the failed Times Square car bomb says two men taken into custody from a house in Massachusetts are from Pakistan.
The official says one of the men was taken into custody because he had overstayed his visa. The government had already begun proceedings to remove the other man from the country and he had been awaiting a ruling from an immigration court. The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, is not authorized to release details on the case and did not know whether authorities are considering criminal charges against the men.
Authorities and witnesses say federal agents conducted Thursday raids in Boston suburbs and on New York's Long Island. The FBI says the searches are the product of evidence gathered in the investigation into Faisal Shahzad's alleged bombing attempt two weeks ago, but there was "no known immediate threat to the public or any active plot against the United States," FBI spokeswoman Gail Marcinkiewicz said.
Marcinkiewicz would not confirm any addresses, but police cordoned off a small house in Watertown, a suburb about 10 miles west of Boston, and a neighbor reported seeing an FBI raid there.
A Mobil gas station in Brookline, another Boston suburb, also was raided. The entrances and exits to the station were cordoned off by yellow tape, and FBI agents were going in and out of the building. Agents also searched a silver Honda in the parking lot, removing items from the vehicle and loading material into an SUV.
Elias Audy, 60, of Boston, is listed at the owner of the Mobil station. He was seen by reporters leaving the business afterward and had no comment.
FBI spokesman Richard Kolko said locations in Long Island also were searched.
Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said the two people taken into custody were being held on alleged immigration violations, but he would not provide more details.
Shahzad, 30, is accused of trying to detonate a bomb-laden SUV in Times Square on May 1. The vehicle smoldered but didn't explode. Federal agents, tracing Shahzad through the SUV's previous owner, caught him two days later on a plane bound for the United Arab Emirates as it was departing New York's Kennedy Airport.
Shahzad has not yet appeared in court. Federal investigators say he has been cooperating and has told them he received weapons training in Pakistan.
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.
About 15 minutes later, the agents went inside and came out with one man handcuffed and took him down the street, he said. 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.
Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick said in a statement that federal authorities and state police "conducted a safe and successful operation" Thursday.
Shahzad had been living in Connecticut. William Reiner, FBI spokesman in Connecticut, there were no search warrants served in the state Thursday as part of the investigation.
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Associated Press writer Denise Lavoie in Boston, Jay Lindsay from Brookline, Mass., Russell Contreras in Boston, John Christoffersen in New Haven, Conn. and Eileen Sullivan from Washington contributed to this story.