Sargodha, Pakistan (CNN) – The mother of one of the five young men arrested in Pakistan told CNN Thursday that her son was in that country to get married, not to plot terror attacks as Pakistani police have alleged.
The FBI was in Pakistan on Thursday interrogating the men, who some U.S. and Pakistani law enforcement officials have identified as Americans, according to Usman Anwar, head of the district police of Sargodha, about 120 miles south of Islamabad.
The five had been reported missing from Virginia, and police are confident they were planning terrorist acts, Tahir Gujjrar, deputy superintendent of police in Sargodha, told CNN on Wednesday.
Pakistani authorities said they believe the young men tried to connect with militant groups.
U.S. authorities have not confirmed the identities of the people who were arrested.
In an interview with CNN, Subira Farouk said her son, Umar, was one of the young men detained in the case. She said her husband also was arrested, which would bring to six the number of people in custody. Police confirmed they have six people in custody, not five, as was originally reported.
Farouk said her son would never plot a terror attack. She described him as a business student at George Mason University in suburban Washington.
Farouk said she and her husband went to Pakistan to arrange a marriage for their son, who surprised her by traveling from the United States.
The arrests came after a raid Wednesday on a home in Sargodha, Gujjrar said. Investigators found laptops and maps of Pakistan containing highlighted areas that correspond to regions where terrorists have been active, Anwar said.
It is too premature to link the men with any terrorist organizations, he said, but preliminary investigations suggest they had sought to link up with the Jaish-e-Mohammed and Jamaat ud Dawa militant organizations. Neither group showed interest, he said.
No U.S. officials have confirmed Gujjrar’s information, and there was no indication that any charges had been filed against the men.
The FBI had said earlier that it was trying to determine whether a link existed between the five missing men from Virginia and the arrests in Pakistan.
President Obama said Thursday that he envisioned “a series of investigations” into the arrests.
“I think the details are still forthcoming,” Obama said. “There will undoubtedly be a series of investigations surrounding these events, so I’d prefer not to comment on them at this point.”
Farouk said her son mentioned that he planned to go to a conference with friends. She said she did not hear from him, grew concerned and began calling his friends’ parents. That’s when she realized that he and his friends were missing. She said she thought they had been kidnapped.
Their families contacted the Council on American Islamic Relations and U.S. law enforcement authorities. Farouk said the authorities advised her to stay in Pakistan.
Later, Farouk said she got a call from a relative in Pakistan who said her son was in the country with several friends. She said she was relieved, thinking her son had surprised her, but then authorities arrested her husband, her son and his friends.
A U.S. law enforcement official not authorized to speak for attribution said the five men missing from Virginia were all American citizens and he wasn’t sure whether they are the same men arrested in Pakistan.
“We think it is, but we don’t have it firm,” the official said. “The truthful answer is, we don’t know.”
The State Department said it does not have confirmation of the arrested individuals’ identities. If they are Americans, the United States will be seeking consular access, State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said Wednesday.
“If they are American citizens, we are going to be very interested in the charges they have been detained on and the circumstances in which they are being held,” he said. “That is something we would do anywhere.”
The U.S. law enforcement official said none of the five missing men had shown up on law enforcement’s radar before they were reported missing.
Authorities believe their intent was to wage jihad overseas rather than in terrorist acts in the United States, the official said, but “there is still a lot of uncertainty about what they were up to.”