Judge clears way for man's release in car bomb probe

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Times Square (AP file)

Times Square (AP file)

A federal immigration judge has cleared the way for release of a Pakistani man detained on an immigration violation in Maine while authorities investigated the failed Times Square bombing.

Immigration Judge Brenda O’Malley reinstated the $10,000 bail for Mohammad Shafiq Rahman that she had previously revoked at the request of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. O’Malley said the government had provided no reason for continuing to hold Rahman without bail.

“We are very pleased that he will be returning to his family, unless there is another unexpected turn,” said Barry Hoffman, Pakistan’s consul general in Boston.

Kathryn Mattingly, a spokeswoman for the Executive Office for Immigration Review, said the judge set Sept. 14 for a hearing in which both sides will present their cases.

Rahman’s family had said after the judge initially set the $10,000 bond on June 30 that it was prepared to post the bail. ICE did not say specifically at the time why it had requested the revocation, except that it had been deemed appropriate that he remain in custody.

A spokesman for ICE said in an e-mail on Tuesday that the agency would not comment on ongoing litigation.

Rahman’s attorney, Cynthia Arn, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Rahman, a computer programmer from South Portland, Maine, and two men from Watertown, Mass., Pir Khan and Aftab Khan, were taken into custody on immigration violations on May 13 as investigators probed the May 1 attempted car bombing. None of the three has been charged in connection with the Times Square case in which Faisal Shahzad, a former Connecticut man, pleaded guilty to terrorism and weapons charges.

Rahman, who overstayed his visa and married an American woman in March, knew Shahzad when he lived in Connecticut a decade ago because they were both part of the local Pakistani community, but they haven’t spoken in years, Arn has said.

Rahman had been detained at Cumberland County Jail in Maine since his arrest.

“I think they overreached,” Hoffman said of the U.S. government’s attempts to link the three men to the New York City case. “They don’t have anything on these guys.”

Authorities have said the men may have given money to Shahzad through a network used by immigrants without knowing how the money would be used.

Rahman’s wife, Sara Rahman, told reporters after Tuesday’s bail decision that her husband had relied on his devout Muslim faith to get him through the ordeal.

“He’s just looking forward to coming home,” she said.

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