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Mom denies terror link as 6 arrested in Pakistan

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Mom denies son is terrorist
  • Mother says son was in Pakistan to get married, not plot attacks
  • Her husband also arrested, she says
  • Five young men reported missing from Virginia
  • Terrorism
  • Pakistan

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.

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.

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.

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."

CNN's Arwa Damon, Jeanne Meserve and Elise Labott contributed to this report