Times Square Bomber: Faisal Shahzad
Our fighters are ready to attack America, say Pakistan Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud. Mehsud emerged late last month for the first time since American and Pakistani military sources suggested he had been killed in January, claiming responsibility for the Times Square bomb. The released video sends the warning of impending attacks on America. Fifty-three hours and 20 minutes elapsed between the time Faisal Shahzad allegedly parked a vehicle carrying a bomb in New York’s Times Square on Saturday and the time of his arrest. It takes the training of street vendors to do the work of Obama’s Department of Homeland Security, which Removed Shahzad from the No-Fly List. The vendors Lance Orton and Duane Jackson alerted police to smoke coming from a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder SUV parked at the corner of 45th Street and 7th Avenue on Saturday evening. Upon inspection, police discovered it was loaded with three 20-gallon propane tanks; a metal container with M-88 fireworks; 250 pounds of urea-based fertilizer and more M-88s in a metal locker; two gasoline cans with additional M-88s; and two alarm clocks. Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen who recently spent five months in Pakistan, was arrested on terrorism and weapons of mass destruction charges for trying to blow up the crude gasoline-and-propane bomb amid tourists and theatergoers Saturday evening. Shahzad admitted training to make bombs at a terrorism camp in his native land before he rigged an SUV with a homemade device to explode in Times Square.
What have we learned about Faisal Shahzad? Shahzad worked as a financial analyst in Connecticut, where he lived before his house was repossessed last year because of debt problems. Shahzad is the youngest of four children, born in Pakistan. He is the son of Bahar-ul Haq, a retired air vice marshal in the Pakistan Air Force, the equivalent of a two-star general. Bahar-ul Haq has since settled on hundreds of acres of farmland in Dera Ismail Khan, close to the Peshawar tribal belt where Shahzad was educated at military school. He has an identification card indicating he is a resident of Karachi, and his family are ethnic Pashtuns from northwest Pakistan. In December 1998 he was granted an F-1 student visa. Immigration officials noted there was “no derogatory information” on him in any database. In 1999 he was placed on a US government travel lookout list called the “Traveler Enforcement Compliance System. He attended Southeastern University in Washington DC. April 2002, he was granted an H1-B visa for skilled workers. He remained in the U.S. for three years on that visa, earning an M.B.A at the University of Bridgeport in the summer of 2005. Shahzad was granted a permanent residence status, (a “green card”) in January 2006. On October 20, 2008, he reported that he had married Huma Asif Mian, an American citizen He bought a small house in Shelton, a town in Connecticut close to Bridgeport and had two young children, a boy and a girl. He would wear all black and jog at night. He said he didn’t like the sunlight. The family often wore traditional Muslim dress and entertained friends in the back garden at weekends. He was granted U.S. citizenship on April 17, 2009. Shahzad and his family moved to Pakistan. He was sued by the bank in September 2009, and the bank foreclosed on his home. On July 3, 2009, Shahzad reportedly traveled to Pakistan and is believed to have visited Peshawar, a gateway to the militant-occupied tribal regions of Pakistan and stayed there from July 7 to July 22. While in Pakistan, Shahzad said he trained at a terrorist training camp in what was believed to be Waziristan.
Shahzad’s journey links him to the groups: Lashkar-e-Taiba, the Jaish-e-Mohammad and the Pakistani Taliban. The Lashkar-e-Taiba are the largest and most organized Islamic fundamentalist outfit in the world. The organization was set up by Pakistani intelligence to fight a proxy war in Kashmir. The key to the Lashkar-e-Taiba’s success with educated Muslims is its approach to indoctrination. The Jamaat ud Dawa adopts an intellectual strategy toward its enemies. Taliban and al-Qaida leaders often speak of destroying the infidels. Based on their reading of history and interpretation of the Koran, for why Muslims around the world should “rise up against injustice” resonated with Shahzad. The Jaish-e-Mohammad has deep roots in the Pakistani security establishment. It was established in 1990 and has been active in the global jihad for years. The group’s desire to hit America on its home turf is well-known. Shahzad’s alleged connection to the Jaish-e-Mohammad is possibly the second link in the chain of events leading to the attempted bombing in Times Square. The group has been implicated in a number of attacks in foreign countries. The Jaish-e-Mohammad also was implicated in a failed 2009 plot to bomb a synagogue in New York. The Pakistani Taliban plays an incidental role as an outsourcing outfit with specialized skills in bomb-making and facilities at which recruits can train in jihad’s destructive arts. The Taliban provided Shahzad the technical skills he needed to carry out the attack, the final step of his transformation.
Shahzid returned to the U.S. on February 3, 2010, on an Emirates flight from Dubai. Shahzad was believed to have bought the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder which was used in the car bomb attempt within three weeks prior to the incident. The vehicle was purchased through an ad on Craigslist, for $1,300 which Shahzad reportedly paid a Connecticut woman for in $100 bills. The money was paid and the car turned over at a Connecticut shopping center, without any formal paperwork being exchanged. Shahzad has admitted to receiving rudimentary bomb-making training in North Waziristan, in Pakistan’s restive tribal belt. Phone records show that he was in contact with people in Pakistan in the weeks and days leading up to the failed attack. Pakistan authorities have detained at least seven other individuals in connection with Shahzad, but few details have emerged about the nature of those connections. Now a 10-page criminal complaint accuses Shahzad of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to kill people through international terrorism, carrying a destructive device, transporting explosives and attempting to destroy a building. If convicted, he could be sentenced to life in prison.
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