The South Portland man under federal investigation for possible financial ties to an attempted bombing in New York City told a diplomat Friday that he does not know the two Massachusetts men who have been swept up in the same probe.

Mohammad Shafiq Rahman, 34, also said he met the bomb suspect, Faisal Shahzad, several years ago when both were living in Connecticut, but they were not friends and he has not spoken to him recently.

“He looks perplexed,” said Barry Hoffman, Pakistan’s consul general in Boston. “He doesn’t know these fellows from Boston.”
Hoffman met with Rahman for about 45 minutes at the South Portland offices of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. Rahman was transported to the offices from his cell at the Cumberland County Jail in Portland, where he is in federal custody.

Rahman is a Pakistani citizen who has lived in the United States since 2001, and moved to Maine a few years ago. He was arrested May 13 by federal agents on an alleged immigration violation. Hoffman said Rahman’s work visa expired in 2006 and he decided to remain in the U.S. after his request for an extension was denied.

Department of Justice officials have said that Rahman, as well as two other Pakistani citizens from Watertown, Mass., helped provide the funds used by Shahzad in an attempted car bombing on May 1 in New York City’s Times Square. But the officials said the men may not have known they were supplying funds that supported terrorism.

Like Rahman, Aftab Khan, 27, and Pir Khan, 43, were arrested May 13 on immigration violations.

Pir Khan, who is married to a woman who grew up in Litchfield, made his first court appearance Tuesday and was ordered held without bail. Aftab Khan appeared in court Thursday. The judge at the Immigration Court in Boston said she would rule within a week on whether he would be allowed bail.

A government lawyer said Shahzad’s phone number and name were found in Aftab Khan’s cell phone, and were also written on an envelope found in the apartment the Khans shared in Watertown. Both men have told their lawyer they do not know Shahzad, according to the Associated Press.

Rahman is a computer programmer who is employed by Artist and Craftsman Supply in Portland. He has previously worked with several technology firms, including Saco-based Maine Technology Providers, according to a profile believed to have been posted by Rahman on a business networking website.

Rahman’s wife, Sara Rahman, has retained an immigration lawyer, Cynthia Arn, and a criminal defense lawyer, Martin Ridge, Hoffman said. Arn has said she cannot comment on the case without the approval of her client. Ridge could not be reached for comment late on Friday. Sara Rahman has declined to speak about the case.

Hoffman said the purpose of his visit on Friday was to make sure that Rahman’s needs were being met.

“He looked very good. I have high praise for the sheriff, and I really compliment the facility for treating him kindly.”

Hoffman was disturbed when he visited Pir Khan at the jail in Plymouth County, Mass., earlier this week, because Khan was brought into the interview room in leg shackles and handcuffs.

Rahman has been provided with a prayer rug, a copy of the Quran, and he is not being served meals with pork, Hoffman said.

“Muslims pray several times daily. I just want to make sure that he is treated like other people with visa violations,” he said.

Hoffman said he does not know what information the government has that supposedly connects Rahman with Shahzad. Spokespeople from Immigration and Customs have declined to provide any details.

Hoffman has been concerned by the public backlash against Pakistanis since the arrest of Shahzad.

“The Pakistani community in the U.S. is several hundred thousand people, mostly highly educated, doctors, engineers, businessmen,” Hoffman said. “They serve in the military and die in the military.

“In the case of Faisal Shahzad, everyone gets blamed and it’s not fair.”