May 15, 2010

Maine detainee knew Shahzad

BY TREVOR MAXWELL

BY TREVOR MAXWELL

AND EDWARD D. MURPHY

Portland Press Herald

A South Portland man believed to have a financial link to the attempted Times Square car bombing is a soft-spoken computer programmer who moved to Maine a few years ago from Connecticut.

Mohammad Rahman, 34, known to friends by his middle name, Shafiq, was arrested Thursday on an undisclosed immigration violation. Two other Pakistani men were arrested in the Boston area, and are also suspected of helping to fund Faisal Shahzad, the man accused of terrorism for the Times Square incident two weeks ago. Authorities on Friday continued to stress that Rahman and the other men may not have known what the money was being used for.

"The arrests were all related to possible funding streams," a congressional source said, speaking on condition of anonymity regarding the ongoing investigation. "It is not clear whether the individuals knew whether they were supporting a terrorist act."

Rahman has not been charged with a crime, but he remains in the custody of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, authorities said.

Rahman lives with his wife in an apartment on Kelley Street in South Portland. Neighbors said law enforcement agents executed a search warrant at the home on Thursday afternoon, hours after Rahman was arrested. Since August of last year, he has worked as a computer specialist for Artist and Craftsman Supply, a 15-store chain based in Portland.

Larry Adlerstein, owner of the stores, said Rahman told him that he had known Shahzad, but had not spoken to him in many years. The subject came up earlier this week when Adlerstein asked Rahman if he felt bad about the negative publicity his native Pakistan was getting, in light of the Shahzad arrest.

"He said, 'I feel terrible. In fact, eight or nine years ago, I knew this guy'," Rahman said, according to Adlerstein.

Rahman went on to say that when he knew Shahzad, he was unassuming and unopinionated, Adlerstein said. He said Rahman suggested that Shahzad perhaps fit the mold for recruitment by terrorists -- presumably meaning someone who wouldn't attract attention.

Rahman has apparently lived in New York and Connecticut, but has had business ties in Maine since at least 2003. A former landlord, Dr. John Hayes, said Rahman was new to Maine in 2008 when he rented an apartment from Hayes on Stevens Avenue in Portland.

Rahman took time off to get married earlier this year. He and his wife, Sara Rahman, moved into the South Portland apartment recently, neighbors said.

"They were so new, we hadn't even really met, except to say hello," said Carolyn Perry, owner of a salon next door to the Rahmans' apartment. She thought the couple moved into the apartment in late fall or early winter.

Attempts to reach Sara Rahman on Friday were unsuccessful.

A profile on Linkedin.com, a social networking site, was apparently posted by Rahman. The profile said Rahman attended the NED University of Engineering and Technology in Karachi, Pakistan. Rahman said he had more than 12 years of "experience in Software Application Design and Development, Deployment, Software R&D, System Analysis and Implementation for desktop and web."

The profile said Rahman also is employed as a project manager and chief technology officer at Maine Technology Providers.

According to state records, that business was recently administratively dissolved. The president, Seth Gillis, did not respond to calls and an email on Friday.

State records in Connecticut also show that Rahman established 15 limited liability corporations, including 12 dot-coms, in 2005. Those corporations are deemed active by the state of Connecticut, but the extent of their development is unknown.

(Continued on page 2)

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