The South Portland man who is believed to have a financial link to the attempted car bombing in Times Square 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, also suspected of helping to fund Faisal Shahzad, the man accused of terrorism for the Times Square incident two weeks ago.

Authorities continued to stress Friday that Rahman and the other men may not have known how the money was being used.

“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 searched the home Thursday afternoon, hours after Rahman was arrested.

He has worked as a computer specialist since August for Artist and Craftsman Supply, a 15-store chain based in Portland.

Larry Adlerstein, owner of the stores, said Rahman told him that he knew Faisal Shahzad but had not spoken with him in many years. The subject came up this week, when Adlerstein asked Rahman if he felt bad about the negative publicity his native Pakistan was getting, in light of Shahzad’s 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 fit the mold for recruitment by terrorists — presumably meaning someone who wouldn’t attract attention.

Rahman apparently has lived in New York and Connecticut, and 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 apartment in South Portland recently, neighbors said.

“They were so new, we hadn’t even really met, except to say hello,” said Carolyn Perry, who owns 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 a project manager and chief technology officer for Maine Technology Providers. According to state records, that business was administratively dissolved recently. Its president, Seth Gillis, did not respond to calls and an e-mail on Friday.

State records in Connecticut 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.

Rahman apparently has no criminal record in Maine, but his driver’s license is under suspension. Court records show that his license was suspended indefinitely in October 2008 for his failure to pay a fine. He was cited earlier that year for failure to produce evidence of insurance and failure to display a valid inspection sticker.

Adlerstein described Rahman as a conscientious employee whose only problem was a limited command of the English language. He didn’t understand English as well as he spoke it, Adlerstein said.

Adlerstein took to explaining tasks twice, using different wording, as a way of making sure that Rahman got the idea, he said.

“He was a very calm, subdued person, but I got to the point where I could get a smile from Shafiq — and a smile from Shafiq meant a lot to me,” said Adlerstein, who said he would take Rahman back as an employee “in an instant” if he’s allowed.

Adlerstein said FBI and Department of Homeland Security agents showed up at his store Thursday morning to tell him that Rahman had been arrested for being in the country illegally.

He said the agents didn’t bring up Times Square, but he did, telling them about the conversation a few days earlier in which Rahman mentioned knowing Shahzad.

The only other apparent reference to terrorism was when Rahman told Maureen Renner, his supervisor, that he had lived or worked in New York City at one time but left “because he found 9/11 so disturbing,” she said.

“We didn’t get into a lot of discussions,” Renner said. “He was a very private person and I accepted that.”

Rahman often worked at night, Renner and Adlerstein said, so he could maintain and upgrade the computers and shut them off if necessary without disrupting store operations. They said he often worked until 3 or 4 a.m., and would come in late in the morning otherwise.

Renner said Rahman took time off to get married a few months ago. She said she didn’t know much about the wedding except that it was in Maine.

Adlerstein said Rahman’s wife came into the store Thursday and told him that she was afraid of losing Rahman, the nicest man she had ever met.

Adlerstein said his personnel employees asked Rahman for an ID card so they could check on his immigration status, but he kept putting them off. He noted that Rahman attended a company retreat in Maryland in October and flew there, so he must have provided some ID to get on the plane.

 

Staff Writer Trevor Maxwell can be contacted at 791-6451 or at:

[email protected]

 

Staff Writer Edward D. Murphy can be contacted at 791-6465 or at:

[email protected]