WASHINGTON - Attorney General Eric Holder has told Congress that "several people" have been taken into custody for immigration violations in the Times Square case.
In describing the development at a House Judiciary Committee hearing, the attorney general said the arrests came as investigators looking into the bombing attempt executed search warrants at locations he did not specify but said they were in the Northeast.
Holder said the latest action came on Thursday morning and was "the product of evidence gathered in the investigation" of the Times Square bombing attempt.
A Justice Department spokesman said earlier that two people are in federal custody after search warrants were issued in connection with the Times Square bombing investigation.
Northeast locations searched in Times Square probe
Federal agents conducted Thursday morning raids in Massachusetts and New York in connection with the failed Times Square car bomb, and two people were arrested, federal authorities and witnesses said.
The searches were 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.