May 11th, 2010
08:28 PM ET

Pakistani man arrested at U.S. Embassy in Chile, officials say

A 28-year-old Pakistani man with explosives residue on his clothes was arrested at the U.S. Embassy in Chile, the State Department and Chilean national police said Tuesday.

U.S. Embassy officials in Santiago, Chile's capital, asked the man to come in for a routine consular issue and when he arrived, detectors registered the explosives residue, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said Tuesday afternoon at a briefing in Washington.

"We had information, we have information on this individual," Crowley said. " We ... brought him - invited him to come to the embassy to clarify the information that we had on this individual. And as he came into the embassy, our explosive detectors went off."

Crowley declined to give further details on why the man was asked to come in to the embassy.

A senior U.S. official told CNN the man was linked to an extremist group based in the Western Hemisphere and not to a group in Pakistan.

"As far as we can tell, the origin of the activities which brought him to our attention were more of a local or regional nature than international," the official said. "He came to Chile on a student visa and while there he associated himself with a group that we have some knowledge of that was espousing extremist and anti-Western views."

The official told CNN the man was on a watch list and was being tracked for some time because he was believed to be involved with the extremist group, which the official declined to identify. The official said the association was enough to call him to the U.S. embassy in Chile to revoke his visa. U.S. officials were surprised when he tested positive for TNT.

An investigation is underway to determine what he was doing with explosives and whether he posed a threat to the United States.

Crowley identified the suspect as Muhammad Saif-ur-Rehman Khan and said he was handed over to Chilean authorities. A spokesman for the Carabineros, Chile's national police, gave the man's name as Mauhamnas Saif Ur.

The explosives residue was found on the man's clothes, the Carabinero spokesman told CNN in a telephone interview from Santiago. He declined to give his name, following Carabinero policy.

The suspect was scheduled to have a court hearing Tuesday afternoon in which he would be charged with a firearms violation, the spokesman said.

Lt. Col. Fernando Vera of the Carabineros said in a televised interview that standard procedures were followed.

"The embassy has their security procedures in place and their security measures were activated, and that required the support of our personnel," Vera said. "Our personnel is on site and, according to agreements and protocols, the individual has been in custody of the interior minister."

The suspect had been in Chile since January and was doing an internship in tourism at a Chilean hotel, said CNN Chile, CNN's partner network in the nation.

Chilean authorities searched the man's apartment in a student housing district in central Santiago, CNN Chile reported. Video showed officials in white hazmat suits carrying items out of an apartment.

A neighbor said in a televised interview that the suspect was a religious man who went to a local mosque every day. Asked whether friends visited him, the unnamed neighbor said, "No. Nobody."

The incident occurred a week after Faisal Shahzad - a Pakistani-born naturalized U.S. citizen - was arrested in connection with a failed car bombing in New York's Times Square.

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Filed under: Chile • Pakistan
soundoff (77 Responses)
  1. Eamon

    Just another one-off.

    May 11, 2010 at 8:27 am | Report abuse |
  2. originalwolf

    Even an idiot can figure out that now probably everyone applying for a passport from pakistan just wants build a bomb in America. Just stop granting visa's to these people for crying out loud. It's so easy to figure out even a CAVE MAN

    May 11, 2010 at 9:46 am | Report abuse |
  3. joshz

    Coincidence I think not!

    May 11, 2010 at 10:15 am | Report abuse |
  4. DoubleW

    More to the point, where did the guy come from in Pakistan, who were his associates, and where did he live in Chile? Might be there's a finished bomb sitting somewhere in Chile, ready for this schmuck's associates to plant and detonate it.
    Any male under 40 years of age who has spent time in Pakistan within the past four or five years ought to be very rigorously checked. A sad situation, but the reasons are obvious.

    May 11, 2010 at 10:27 am | Report abuse |
  5. miketrout

    look on the bright side, i just save a ton of money by switching to Geico

    May 11, 2010 at 10:30 am | Report abuse |
  6. siryousaf

    This is what happened:

    Mr. Muhammad Saif-ur-Rehman Khan has done his A-levels from the prestigious University College in Islamabad (UCI), affiliated with the University of London. Saif had extensively travelled around the world including the United Kingdom and the United States. He had worked in the hospitality industry for a while. He learnt about a Spanish language learning opportunity with a hotel internship in Chile from his college principal who also happened to be the visa counselor at the Chilean embassy in Islamabad. After completing his Spanish language course at eFronteres, he was doing an internship at a hotel in Santiago, Chile.

    May 11, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  7. siryousaf

    A few days back Saif while chatting on Skype with his family on Friday 7th May 2010, told his father that a person named “Bill” had called him from the US embassy in Santiago. He had asked him to come to the US embassy for some “identification check-up”.
    Sensing that it was strange that he was being called presumably from the US embassy without any reason, he informed an officer at the Pakistani embassy who knew him. Therefore, he called back “Bill” using his cell phone on the number that the call originated from and was informed that he could come to the embassy on Monday at 3:00 pm when he would be off from work at the hotel.

    May 11, 2010 at 10:45 am | Report abuse |
  8. ahmed mustafa

    why is Pakistan related news so much in the news these days... how do we know these are indeed facts/TRUTH and not a very sophisticated ploy by covert agencies like CIA and news organizations to bring bad name to Paksitan..
    it was these major media like CNN, etc, who brought about same bad stories about Iraq before the invasion, culminating to an acceptance by US/world Public to attack Iraq and killing tousands of people. (mind you no one from Iraq was in 9-11 attack).. now the same practice is being applied for Pakistan....alas, the only people make money is arms dealer/manufacturer...and news organizations.

    May 11, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  9. OMQ

    This is just the begining. Wait and see how THEY pile up the excuses to take the Nuclear weapons from Pakistan. THEY want Pakistan Army to start an operation in North Waziristan and all cases are being cooked to pressurize Pakistan to do what THEY want.

    News is told and opinion is sold.

    CNN and all other news channels are not in the business to tell the news, they are in the business of selling the opinion.

    May 11, 2010 at 11:26 am | Report abuse |
  10. Indian

    Time for USA to incease aid to pakistan by another $5 billion, god bless USA.......

    May 11, 2010 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  11. BAK

    This is a simple and easy trap. Embassy called him himself for some "Bakground Checks" even when he had already a 5 years multiple USA visa stamped on his passport. And he had this valid visa not from an year back but from last 15 years. He completed his education from british based university in Pakistan and has extensivly been travelling across the world.
    I see this as another trap to nudge Pakistan internationally. The basic purpose is to keep pressure on Pakistan after Faisal Shazad case. And try to panitrate in to pakistan not through airial roots but boots on the ground too.
    Just need to let AMERICANS know that their leadership from last 2 decades is pushing America from where there will be no "Road to Recovery".

    May 11, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Report abuse |
  12. from India

    Pakis will bite the same hand which feed them; I thought USA is country of very smart people, too bad they can’t understand this simple logic. You can give them all the money, aid and weapons but at the end of the day all the resources will be used against American or their interests, wake up USA........

    May 11, 2010 at 12:12 pm | Report abuse |
  13. siryousaf

    How can you Indians fall so low and jump into everything to do with bad-mouthing Pakistan. Don't forget your communist love affair with Soviet Union. Your lot are exploiting US and misguiding its people. What goes around, comes around.

    May 11, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sk

    Why is this not being reported on CNN TV News??

    May 11, 2010 at 12:20 pm | Report abuse |
  15. t

    People don't have any common scents if you know that your going to get caught then why do it anyway get a life!!!!

    May 11, 2010 at 12:33 pm | Report abuse |
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