, Western intellectuals of every stripe have found every conceivable reason why Muslims resort to Islamic extremism—except for the most obvious reason, the timeless and unchangeable teachings of Islam itself. With the biographical information on failed Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad that has
and elsewhere, we are reaching the point where the non-Islam theories of Islamic extremism will cease to be credible, even to their most earnest believers.
, friends have said that over the last couple of years Shahzad had become increasingly serious in his personality and more oriented toward Islam. In the bare, unfurnished apartment where he was living alone in the months preceding the attempted bombing, just about his only possession was a Koran. No matter how moderate and non-religious Muslims may be, Islam remains their identity and their ultimate loyalty, and therefore they are liable at any time to become more devout in their religion and to start
. Which is why, as I’ve been saying for many years, Muslims do not belong in significant numbers in any Western or non-Muslim society, period.
Beast turned his American dream into a nightmare
By PERRY CHIARAMONTE in Shelton, Conn., REUVEN FENTON in Bridgeport, Conn., and LUKAS I. ALPERT in NY
Last Updated: 7:59 AM, May 5, 2010
Posted: 3:07 AM, May 5, 2010
He was a perfect terrorist sleeper agent.
Times Square bomber wannabe Faisal Shahzad was living what appeared to be the American dream. He had a Facebook page, he relished eating at Red Lobster and Burger King. He shopped at Wal-Mart with his wife and children—all the while waiting for the day he would activate.
But his twisted turn down the path to terror came at a time most immigrants feel nothing but the greatest pride and admiration for America—the day he was sworn in as a US citizen.
In July 2009, Shahzad quit his lucrative job as a financial analyst and hurriedly packed up his family—even leaving a house filled with clothes and food—and moved back to his native Pakistan just three short months after an April 17, 2009, citizenship ceremony in Hartford, Conn.
He told authorities he followed the terrorist’s siren song to that country’s lawless border with Afghanistan, where he was trained by the Taliban to build bombs.
Exactly when Shahzad decided to train with terrorists is not clear, but once he chose his path, he moved quickly, neighbors said.
“It looked like they left in a hurry—like they left all their stuff behind,” said a man who lived next door to the two-story Shelton, Conn., colonial that Shahzad and his family let slip into foreclosure in September 2009 after no buyers emerged.
Shahzad told a broker, Frank DelVecchio, that he was returning to Pakistan to care for his ill parents, The Wall Street Journal reported.
“He was very disappointed that he wasn’t getting his house sold,” DelVecchio said.
By all appearances, Shahzad, 30, his wife, Huma Mian, 28, and their two children, 4-year-old daughter Saba and 2-year-old son Rayyan, were living a normal suburban life in Shelton.
Neighbors said he was often spotted playing with his kids on the lawn and tinkering with the motor of his lawn mower.
Stacks of papers left behind showed the family ate at Red Lobster, worked out at Planet Fitness, bought gas at the local Exxon station and did their shopping at Fresh Halal Meat & International Food in nearby Bridgeport.
His wife wrote on social networking sites that her favorite shows were, “Everybody Loves Raymond” and “Friends,” and that she loved to “party every night.” She listed her passions as “fashion, shoes, bags, SHOPPING! and of course Faisal.”
Every morning, Shahzad would leave wearing a suit and tie to go to work at a marketing firm, the Affinion Group in Norwalk, Conn., where he had been hired as a junior analyst in 2006 to prepare financial reports, a company spokesman said.
Despite their unremarkable exterior, the Shahzads sometimes made their neighbors wonder about them.
“He seemed like a hard worker, but he was always weird,” said neighbor Brenda Thurman. “I didn’t think he was that weird to do something like this.”
Among the things that struck her as odd, Thurman said, was that Shahzad liked to jog late at night wearing dark-colored traditional Islamic robes along unlit streets. He told her he didn’t like the sunlight.
“My husband said that he looked like a terrorist,” Thurman said.
Tracy Howard, 46, who said Shahzad often carried black duffel bags, considered him “very nice and very quiet.”
The couple had moved into the brand-new house in 2005, but for the first three years, Mian acted as if she spoke no English, Thurman said. It was only in their last year living there that Thurman discovered Mian spoke it fluently, having spent most of her life in the United States.
Officials at area mosques said they had had no contact with Shahzad or his wife, despite the fact that he had lived in the region for more than a decade after attending the University of Bridgeport.
“To our knowledge, no one has had knowledge or acquaintance with him,” said Kashif Abdul-Karim, the imam of Masjid An-Noor in Bridgeport, which is the largest mosque in the area.
Employees at a local halal meat store said Shahzad would stop by monthly to buy meat and spices, but rarely raised an eyebrow.
“He doesn’t talk too much. He speaks very quietly, you could barely hear him,” said counterman Mohammed Abid, 54. “When I heard that guy did that, I was shocked.”
When Shahzad bought the property he didn’t say much to the broker—except when he went on a rant about President George W. Bush’s policies in Iraq.
“I didn’t take it for anything, since a lot of people didn’t like Bush,” Igor Djuric told the Journal.
“But he was a little strong about expressing it.” Both Shahzad and his wife come from prominent families in Pakistan.
Shahzad hails from the small village of Pabbi in the northwest of the country, but was raised in an upper-middle-class area of Karachi.
His father, retired Air Vice Marshall Baharul Haq, was a decorated aviator in the Pakistani Air Force, having been an instructor for the RAF in England, and is now the deputy director general of the country’s civil aviation authority.
Haq also created the country’s aerial aerobatics team—Pakistan’s version of the Blue Angels—known as the Tweety Birds.
Haq’s cousin Kifyat Ali told reporters outside the family’s home in Peshawar yesterday that Shahzad often came back to visit from the United States. Sources said Shahzad had traveled back to Pakistan as many as 10 times in the past seven years.
“He was never linked to any political or religious party here,” Ali said.
During his most recent trip last July, Shahzad spent time in Karachi but then traveled to Peshawar, which is often a jumping-off point for foreign visitors to join up with jihadist groups in neighboring militant-controlled areas.
There, authorities lost track of him, but he told investigators he went to the rugged and lawless province of Waziristan, where he received bomb training from Taliban terrorists.
In February, he returned to the United States, which his new citizenship allowed him to enter with far less scrutiny. Once back he decamped to an apartment in Bridgeport which the FBI tore apart yesterday searching for evidence. Pakistani officials said they had no direct evidence Shahzad had ties to terror groups, but the Pakistani Taliban laid claim to the failed Times Square attack hours after Shahzad’s car was discovered idling in front of a Broadway theater.
Most of Shahzad’s relatives remain in Pakistan. Several of them were taken into government custody, along with others whom Shahzad had had contact with recently, officials said. Mian’s father, Mohammad Asif Mian, is a highly respected petroleum executive who studied in Colorado and now works for Aramco, the giant oil company.
“They are very prominent people and they’ve been living abroad for many years,” said a relative of Mian’s in Pakistan who declined to give his name. “The children have lived abroad all their lives.”
Relatives said the couple married in Pakistan about seven years ago and she moved with him to Connecticut. She was believed to be in Canada when her husband was arrested, sources told The Post.
Shahzad—who had studied English throughout his schooling in Pakistan—first came to the United States on a student visa in 1998 when he was 19. He first attended the now-defunct Southeastern University in Washington, DC, authorities said. He transferred to the University of Bridgeport in 2000, where he received a BA in computer science and engineering, the school said.
In 2002, he was granted an H1-B visa for skilled workers and continued to study, receiving a master’s in business administration from the University of Bridgeport in 2005.
His professors said Shahzad was an unremarkable student.
“He was a B student. He got a D in databases and then took it again and did much better, got an A-,” said computer applications and information systems professor Robert Todd. “He didn’t stand out in any way.”
Additional reporting by Jeane MacIntosh, Jeremy Olshan, Lorena Mongelli and Riyad Hasan