Faisal Shahzad: The Air Marshal’s incompetent bombmaker son

نیویارک پولیس

By Dr Omer Ali

Someone posted comments about the Times Square bomber and why Pakistan is breeding so many Islamic fanatics (thankfully so many incompetent Islamic fanatics). Someone else posted Dhume’s article from the WSJ today. I wrote a quick email in reply that I am posting here just to get the topic going. These are just “first random thoughts” and I look forward to comments.

Ideologically, Islamic supremacism is not that different from Christian evangelism, Hindu revivalism or those Japanese rightwingers who go around in loudspeaker vans appealing to the emperor to restore Japanese honor and for everyone else to prepare to commit hara kiri.

You may jump up and say, but the Christian fanatics and others are not exploding in buses and trains in faraway countries. True. In most places, States do the killing domestically as well as internationally. Or people fight the state locally. What is different in this case is that the killers (or wannabe killers) are formally apart from the state (non-state actors, even when the state prepares and launches them; deniablity, cutouts) AND they are international in scope and action.

But why Pakistan? After all, the road from ideology to actual explosion passes through state-sponsored education, an infrastructure of terrorism and a culture where this kind of bombing has become an accepted response to whatever is perceived as injustice. Why has this infrastructure been set up in Pakistan and why does it persist there?

I think the real difference in Pakistan is at the top of the heap. The people running India, Japan and the USA are cynical, manipulative, greedy, whatever, but they seem to have a vague grip on reality (and what humans can hope for more than that?). Their worldview accomodates science and change. The same is true even of the Iranian Mullahs and the Saudi Royal family.

But in Pakistan and Afghanistan, the lunatics took over the asylum. They didn’t really BUILD the asylum. It took the superior skills of the CIA to actually set up the infrastructure (though i personally don’t think they intended it to be used beyond Afghanistan and maybe India, but who knows).

But once the Amkeekis had taught them how to blow up things, the students (Taliban) seemed to rush off to start the neo-caliphate with wild abandon. Maybe it was the reverse selection procedures of the Pak army (selecting the dumbest people to become generals); maybe it was a result of the original millenarian fever that erupted at partition (look up millenarian on wikipedia by the way and you will not find partition listed there as an example, just goes to show that even our advanced culture has its blind spots); maybe it was just one of those things that happen in history, but for the last 30 years, THE STATE in Pakistan has been an active participant in this lunacy and the ideology has taken hold. Sons of air marshals are dreaming of setting off bombs in public places. That just takes the biscuit. I dont know what to say.

On a purely western and academic left wing blog, where no contrary opinion can sneak in, I would actually blame the CIA and orientalism and colonialism (not necessarily in that order) and go to sleep a happy man, but even in that echo chamber, things are starting to fall apart. Where will this go next, Allah alone knows for sure, we can only hazard a guess.

My guess: When the only tool you have is a hammer, everything is a nail. So I expect the State Department to pass out more money to Pakistan’s GHQ, I expect the CIA to fund some new insane lunatic fringe to counter their last lunatic fringe, I expect the Pentagon to ask for more money for weapons and a good hard “shock and awe campaign”, I expect professors in San  Francisco to blame colonialism, and I expect Islamists to blow themselves up with even greater devotion.

In short, more of the same. Not really. I am just not in a good mood. Send me your comments. I will try more serious predictions next time. (From Dr. Omar Ali’s FB Notes)

Here’s Dhume’s article from WSJ….

Why Pakistan Produces Jihadists

Carved out of the Muslim-majority areas of British India in 1947, it was the world’s first modern nation based solely on Islam.
By Sadanand Dhume

Monday night’s arrest of Faisal Shahzad, a 30-year-old Pakistani-American accused of planting a car bomb in Times Square on Saturday, will undoubtedly stoke the usual debate about how best to keep America safe in the age of Islamic terrorism. But this should not deflect us from another, equally pressing, question. Why do Pakistan and the Pakistani diaspora churn out such a high proportion of the world’s terrorists?

Indonesia has more Muslims than Pakistan. Turkey is geographically closer to the troubles of the Middle East. The governments of Iran and Syria are immeasurably more hostile to America and the West. Yet it is Pakistan, or its diaspora, that produced the CIA shooter Mir Aimal Kasi; the 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef (born in Kuwait to Pakistani parents); 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed; Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl’s kidnapper, Omar Saeed Sheikh; and three of the four men behind the July 2005 train and bus bombings in London.

The list of jihadists not from Pakistan themselves—but whose passage to jihadism passes through that country—is even longer. Among them are Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mohamed Atta, shoe bomber Richard Reid, and John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban. Over the past decade, Pakistani fingerprints have shown up on terrorist plots in, among other places, Germany, Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands. And this partial catalogue doesn’t include India, which tends to bear the brunt of its western neighbor’s love affair with violence.

In attempting to explain why so many attacks—abortive and successful—can be traced back to a single country, analysts tend to dwell on the 1980s, when Pakistan acted as a staging ground for the successful American and Saudi-funded jihad against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. But while the anti-Soviet campaign undoubtedly accelerated Pakistan’s emergence as a jihadist haven, to truly understand the country it’s important to go back further, to its creation.

Pakistan was carved out of the Muslim-majority areas of British India in 1947, the world’s first modern nation based solely on Islam. The country’s name means “Land of the Pure.” The capital city is Islamabad. The national flag carries the Islamic crescent and star. The cricket team wears green.

From the start, the new country was touched by the messianic zeal of pan-Islamism. The Quranic scholar Muhammad Asad—an Austrian Jew born Leopold Weiss—became an early Pakistani ambassador to the United Nations. The Egyptian Said Ramadan, son-in-law of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan al-Banna, made Pakistan a second home of sorts and collaborated with Pakistan’s leading Islamist ideologue, the Jamaat-e-Islami’s Abul Ala Maududi. In 1949, Pakistan established the world’s first transnational Islamic organization, the World Muslim Congress. Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, the virulently anti-Semitic grand mufti of Jerusalem, was appointed president.

Through alternating periods of civilian and military rule, one thing about Pakistan has remained constant—the central place of Islam in national life. In the 1960s, Pakistan launched a war against India in an attempt to seize control of Kashmir, the country’s only Muslim-majority province, one that most Pakistanis believe ought to be theirs by right.

In the 1970s the Pakistani army carried out what Bangladeshis call a genocide in Bangladesh; non-Muslims suffered disproportionately. Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto boasted about creating an “Islamic bomb.” (The father of Pakistan’s nuclear program, A.Q. Khan, would later export nuclear technology to the revolutionary regime in Iran.) In the 1980s Pakistan welcomed Osama bin Laden, Ayman al-Zawahiri and the Palestinian theorist of global jihad Abdullah Azzam.

In the 1990s, armed with expertise and confidence gained fighting the Soviets, the army’s notorious Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) spawned the Taliban to take over Afghanistan, and a plethora of terrorist groups to challenge India in Kashmir. Even after 9/11, and despite about $18 billion of American aid, Pakistan has found it hard to reform its instincts.

Pakistan’s history of pan-Islamism does not mean that all Pakistanis, much less everyone of Pakistani origin, hold extremist views. But it does explain why a larger percentage of Pakistanis than, say, Indonesians or Tunisians, are likely to see the world through the narrow prism of their faith. The ISI’s reluctance to dismantle the infrastructure of terrorism—training camps, a web of ultra-orthodox madrassas that preach violence, and terrorist groups such as the Lashkar-e-Taiba—ensure that Pakistan remains a magnet for any Muslim with a grudge against the world and the urge to do something violent about it.

If Pakistan is to be reformed, then the goal must be to replace its political and cultural DNA. Pan-Islamism has to give way to old-fashioned nationalism. An expansionist foreign policy needs to be canned in favor of development for the impoverished masses. The grip of the army, and by extension the ISI, over national life will have to be weakened. The encouragement of local languages and cultures such as Punjabi and Sindhi can help create a broader identity, one not in conflict with the West. School curricula ought to be overhauled to inculcate a respect for non-Muslims.

Needless to say, this will be a long haul. But it’s the only way to ensure that the next time someone is accused of trying to blow up a car in a crowded place far away from home, the odds aren’t that he’ll somehow have a Pakistan connection.

Mr. Dhume, the author of “My Friend the Fanatic: Travels with a Radical Islamist” (Skyhorse Publishing, 2009), is a columnist for WSJ.com.

16 responses to “Faisal Shahzad: The Air Marshal’s incompetent bombmaker son”

  1. Times Square bombing: trail that led to Faisal Shahzad
    Faisal Shahzad was charged 53 hours after the bomb was planted in New York
    Associated Press
    guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 5 May 2010 11.41 BST

    It was just over 53 hours from the moment the authorities say Faisal Shahzad left his failed car bomb in the heart of Manhattan until the moment he was taken off a plane at JFK airport and charged with trying to kill untold numbers of residents and tourists.

    At first, all the police had to work with was the 1993 Nissan Pathfinder that had been parked in Times Square with a crude bomb inside. Early investigations found that the licence plate had been switched and the vehicle identification number stripped from the dashboard.

    They managed to recover the identification number, hidden on the engine block, and thus began a chase that led to the arrest of the would-be bomber 53 hours and 20 minutes after the smoking vehicle was spotted on one of America’s busiest streets.

    Shahzad, a Pakistani-born US citizen, was taken off a flight to Dubai and arrested late on Monday. The authorities say he has admitted plotting the attack. He was charged yesterday with terrorism and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.

    “Jack Bauer might have caught him in 24 [hours],” said Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly. “But in the real world, 53’s not bad.”

    The clock started ticking at 6.28pm on Saturday when a security camera captured images of a dark-coloured Pathfinder with tinted windows parked on West 45th Street, an area lined with Broadway theatres and restaurants.

    Six minutes later, a street vendor pointed out the SUV to a police officer on horseback. The vehicle had started belching white smoke and making “popping noises”. Officer Wayne Rhatigan reported a car fire, flagged down other officers and started evacuating the area.

    At 6.40pm, firefighters arrived. After breaking the car’s side and back windows they discovered three propane tanks, two gallons of petrol and a load of fertiliser, with fireworks and some cheap alarm clocks as a trigger.

    The New York police bomb squad was called in and went to work dismantling the device, defusing it by 11.30pm. Times Square, clogged with tourists on a warm evening, would be shut for 10 hours.

    Meanwhile, the police and FBI were pursuing the licence plate attached to the back of the car. Investigators tracked it to a shop selling used car parts in Stratford, Connecticut. They woke the owner at 3am on Sunday and discovered the plate was connected to a different vehicle.

    Investigators also spoke to the owner of an auto shop in nearby Bridgeport because a sticker on the Pathfinder indicated it had been sold by his dealership. That also led nowhere.

    Then at 7.30am, Detective John Wright slid underneath the car at a lab in Queens and found an identification number stamped under the engine block. That led authorities to a man in Bridgeport, Connecticut, and his 19-year-old daughter, Peggy Colas, who had posted ads on eBay and other websites offering a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder for sale, court papers said.

    During questioning on Sunday morning and again Monday, the teenager told investigators that she met the man who bought her car at a supermarket parking lot on 24 April and he took the vehicle for a test drive. She was asking $1,800; he offered $500 less. She agreed and he paid her in cash, with 13 crisp $100 bills.

    She said the buyer told her that no bill of sale was necessary and he already had plates. She did not know his name, but she did have a mobile number.

    That led to a prepaid mobile phone activated on 16 April that had been used to call Colas several times, investigators said. A check of records showed it was also used to contact a Pennsylvania fireworks shop.

    By 11 am on Monday, investigators knew the suspect’s name. Agents later showed Colas six photos, including one of Shahzad. Authorities say she picked Shahzad.

    Meanwhile, there was more evidence. A set of keys left in the Pathfinder’s ignition turned out to belong to a white Isuzu Trooper that Shazhad left parked at New York’s JFK airport on Monday night, as well as to his apartment in Bridgeport. At a nearby garage, investigators recovered fireworks and fertiliser, court papers said.

    Shahzad was spotted at around 3pm on Monday coming out of a shop near his home and was tailed by investigators. He was also placed on a no-fly list.

    Authorities planned to arrest him at his apartment that evening, but Shahzad may have been alerted by news reports that investigators were seeking a Pakistani suspect in Connecticut.

    He managed to slip federal surveillance, according to two people familiar with the investigation and a law enforcement official. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak about the case.

    Shahzad headed for JFK, calling in a reservation for an Emirates flight to Dubai by mobile phone while en route. He paid for the ticket in cash before boarding the plane, authorities said.

    Emirates officials were unaware he was on the no-fly list because they did not check a web forum where the latest updates are posted. It was only when a customs agent assigned to the case spotted Shahzad’s name on the flight manifest 30 minutes before takeoff that the authorities knew he was on board.

    He was belted in to his seat when FBI investigators and police officers boarded the plane and took him into custody.

    The time was 11.45pm.


  2. M Ilyas Khan
    BBC News
    Mohib Banda, Pakistan

    There is a sense of shock in the village of Mohib Banda near Peshawar, where Faisal Shahzad’s family comes from.
    Faisal Shahzad’s father is a big success story for the villagers because he was a fighter pilot who rose to the position of air vice marshal in the Pakistan air force.
    In general, most people don’t believe that his son did what he is accused of doing in New York. They say the family is too educated and well-bred.
    Very few people actually know Faisal Shahzad – some haven’t seen him for years, many have never met him. Those few villagers I met who did know Faisal Shahzad said they had seen changes in his personality in the past three years following his marriage. They say he grew a beard and became more withdrawn and quiet.


  3. The attempted bombing of New York’s Times Square over the past weekend underscores the urgency of our support for the democracy movement in Pakistan. Years of double-dealing by dictatorships that sympathized with jihadi ideology and used militant groups as proxy fighters resulted in an expansive network of terrorists inside the country. The democratic government, elected in 2008, has been working closely with the US to eliminate these groups.

    Since turning its sights on the terrorist networks that had been let to grow under military dictatorships, Pakistan has suffered regular and devastating attacks. Over the past two years, thousands of Pakistanis have been killed by militants. The Taliban has vowed to increase attacks on both the democratic government in Pakistan as well as targets in the United States.

    As police analyze evidence in the New York bombing attempt, a picture has begun to emerge of Taliban militants attempting to expand their reach to threaten Americans as well as Pakistanis.

    Pakistan’s democratic government, long a key-ally in the war on terrorism, has vowed its full cooperation with the US in tracking down and bringing to justice those responsible for the attempted attack.

    “We will cooperate with the United States in identifying this individual and bringing him to justice,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik told Reuters.

    “Pakistani foreign ministry spokesman Abdul Basit said they were awaiting details from the US authorities about Faisal.

    “Meanwhile, a senior Pakistani government official said US ambassador to Islamabad Anne Patterson held talks with Pakistani Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi.

    “There has been initial discussion when the US ambassador met our foreign minister,” said the official.

    “Pakistan and the US have ongoing, robust cooperation on counter-terrorism. If required, we will extend fullest cooperation to US,” the official added.

    “Pakistan is a key ally of the United States and has arrested hundreds of al-Qaeda operatives and handed over many of them to the United States after it signed up to the US-led war on terrorism after the September 11 attacks on the United States in 2001.”

    News agencies are reporting that law enforcement in Pakistan has arrested several people who may be connected to or have information about the attempted bombing.

    The Taliban, al Qaeda, and other militant groups have demonstrated that they are working to expand their reach across the globe by working in coordination with one another. In doing so, they have managed to amplify the impact of what are actually small groups of dedicated terrorists. To defeat this menace, we must support and coordinate with other pro-democracy movements and governments – especially those on the front lines of the war on terror.


  4. Link emerges between Times Square bomb attempt and Pakistani militant group

    A member of the Al Qaeda-allied Pakistani militant group Jaish-e-Muhammad is being held by authorities in Pakistan. That man spent time with Faisal Shahzad, the person charged in the failed bomb plot, although sources say that does not mean Jaish-e-Muhammad engineered the plot.

    By Alex Rodriguez, Los Angeles Times
    May 5, 2010 | 8:58 a.m.
    Reporting from Islamabad, Pakistan

    One of the men arrested in Pakistan in connection with the failed attempt to bomb New York’s Times Square is a member of Jaish-e-Muhammad, an Al Qaeda-allied Pakistani militant group, intelligence sources in Karachi said Wednesday.

    The revelation marks the first time that a specific Pakistani militant group has been associated with the case of Faisal Shahzad, the 30-year-old Pakistani American charged in the failed bomb plot. But it does not necessarily mean that the organization engineered the plot or directed Shahzad’s actions.

    The intelligence sources requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the media on the case.

    The man arrested, Sheikh Mohammed Rehan, allegedly drove with Shahzad from Karachi to Peshawar on July 7 in a pickup truck, authorities said. They returned to Karachi July 22. It is not known why they went to Peshawar or with whom, if anyone, they met there.

    Peshawar is a large, mostly Pashtun city perched on the edge of Pakistan’s tribal areas, where Al Qaeda, the Taliban and other militant groups maintain strongholds. It is also where Shahzad’s father and other relatives live.

    Jaish-e-Muhammad began in the mid-1990s as a militant organization primarily focused on the overthrow of Indian forces in Indian-administered Kashmir. Most of the violent attacks linked to the group have occurred in Kashmir, a disputed region divided between India and Pakistan.

    Over the years, though, the group has expanded its reach and has trained thousands of young men to fight U.S. and NATO forces battling the Taliban in Afghanistan. It was also linked to the 2002 kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal correspondent Daniel Pearl.

    Based principally in Punjab province, the heartland of Pakistan, the group has been designated as a foreign terrorist organization by the U.S. government and was banned by Pakistan in 2002.

    But experts believe Jaish-e-Muhammad still benefits from links with Pakistan’s powerful intelligence community. Some experts believe Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency fostered the group’s formation.

    Authorities said they have not linked Jaish-e-Muhammad or any other militant group to two other men arrested Tuesday in Karachi in connection with the case. Pakistani officials have not explained why those men — Tauseef Ahmed, a cousin of Shahzad’s, and Ahmed’s father-in-law — were detained.

    Pakistani authorities are continuing to investigate any potential link Shahzad might have with the Pakistani Taliban, the tribal areas-based militant group that has plagued the country with waves of suicide bombings and other terror attacks over the last two years.

    In the criminal complaint filed in Shahzad’s case, U.S. authorities said Shahzad acknowledged traveling to the Waziristan region in the tribal areas for training in bomb-making. The complaint did not specify whether Shahzad went to North or South Waziristan, but both regions have long been strongholds for the Pakistani Taliban.

    Recently, several young Western extremists accused of trying to carry out terrorist attacks in the West or planning such attacks have traveled to Pakistan’s tribal areas for training with militants there.

    Pakistan has launched military offensives in South Waziristan and other tribal regions, but it has yet to carry out a decisive attack against militants in North Waziristan, home to Taliban leaders and fighters like the Haqqani network that have focused their violence on Western troops in Afghanistan instead of Pakistan.

    Shahzad’s arrest, and his admission that he trained in Waziristan, could prompt the U.S. to make the case more forcefully to Pakistan to mount an offensive against militants in North Waziristan. Up until now, Islamabad has rejected Washington’s demands that the Pakistani military shift their focus to that area, arguing that it already has thousands of troops in the Swat Valley and in much of the tribal belt, and is too overstretched to deploy more troops elsewhere.

    In a recently released video, the Pakistani Taliban claimed it engineered the attack in Times Square in retaliation for the U.S. drone missile strike that killed the insurgent group’s leader, Baitullah Mahsud, last August. Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mahsud in a separate video warned that his insurgent group would soon carry out attacks in major American cities.

    While Pakistani officials have agreed to cooperate in the Shahzad case, they remain reluctant to accept the possibility that the Pakistani Taliban may be linked to the Times Square bombing. If the insurgent group’s claim is true, it would mark its first attack outside South Asia.

    “Anybody can claim anything, but whether the organization has that kind of reach is questionable,” army spokesman Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas told the Associated Press. “I don’t think they have the capacity to reach the next level.”

    In Pabbi, the small northwest Pakistan town where Shahzad was born, villagers said news of his arrest came as a shock, mostly because there never was any sign of radicalism in the 30-year-old man’s upbringing. His father, Bahar-ul Haq, is a retired senior Pakistani air force officer who years ago moved his family to Hayatabad, an upscale district of Peshawar.

    “I know his family for a long time, and they are very humble people,” said Faiz Ahmad, a Pabbi villager. “I met Shahzad a year ago. … I found him to be very calm and quiet.”


    Special correspondent Zulfiqar Ali in Peshawar contributed to this report


  5. Profile: Faisal Shahzad

    Faisal Shahzad, charged with terrorism and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in a botched bombing in New York City’s Times Square, was born in June 1979 in the town of Pabbi, located northwest of the Pakistani capital, Islamabad.

    Shahzad is the son of Baharul Haq, a former air force vice-marshal and deputy director general of the civil aviation authority, according to Kifyat Ali, a cousin of the father.

    Shahzad became a US citizen in 2009, shortly before travelling to Pakistan for what he says was a five-month stay to visit his parents, according to US officials.

    He is married with two children, and his wife and children are believed to be living in Pakistan, sources told the Associated Press news agency.

    Shahzad graduated from the University of Bridgeport in the state of Connecticut with a bachelor’s degree in computer applications and information systems in 2000 and later returned to earn a master’s in business administration in 2005, the school said.

    Shahzad worked for about three years as a junior financial analyst at the Affinion Group, a marketing and consulting business, located in Norwalk, Connecticut. He left the company in June 2009.

    Shahzad used to live in a two-storey greyish-brown colonial-style house with a sloping yard in a working-class neighbourhood in Shelton, Connecticut.

    Shahzad bought the home for $273,000 and lost it to foreclosure last year.


    Relatives: Bomb suspect from well-respected family
    By CHRIS BRUMMITT (AP) – 1 hour ago
    ISLAMABAD — The Times Square bombing suspect hails from a respected family in a conservative part of Pakistan and there was never any indication he had been drawn to extremism, relatives and friends said Wednesday.
    Details about Faisal Shahzad’s background emerged as the Pakistani army cast doubt on claims by the Pakistan Taliban that they were behind the failed attack in New York.
    Relatives said the family belongs to Pakistan’s elite. Shahzad’s father was a retired air vice marshal in the Pakistani air force, said Kifyat Ali, a cousin of Shahzad’s father. Shahzad has a brother who is a mechanical engineer in Canada, a sister who works at a hospital, and another sister who previously worked as an educator, Ali said.
    “His family is very peaceful and they don’t have any link with any political or religious party,” said Syed Ahmad, a relative in the family’s ancestral home in Pabbi district in the northwest.
    Shahzad, who grew up in Pakistan but left for America at the age of 18, is accused of trying to detonate a car bomb in Times Square on Saturday evening. The 30-year-old, who was arrested Monday night in New York as he attempted to fly out of the country, has allegedly told investigators he received explosives training in Waziristan, a stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban.
    In a video message on Sunday, the Pakistani Taliban said it carried out the attack, in what would be its first known strike outside South Asia. U.S. officials quickly doubted the claim, but Shahzad’s arrest and alleged trip to Waziristan have given it credence.
    Maj. Gen. Athar Abbas, the military’s chief spokesman, said the claim should be “taken with a pinch of salt.”
    “Anybody can claim anything, but whether the organization has that kind of reach is questionable. I don’t think they have the capacity to reach the next level,” he said.
    The attack may increase pressure on the Pakistani army to launch a new offensive in the northern part of Waziristan, something it has been avoiding until now. U.S. and European officials have long said that many of the terror plots in the West are hatched in the region.
    Abbas declined to comment on reports Shahzad had been to Waziristan.
    A senior security official said information gathered so far suggested Shahzad may have links to Jaish-e-Mohammad, an al-Qaida-linked militant group, though he did not say why Shahzad would have been drawn to the group in the first place.
    One of several people detained for questioning since Shahzad’s arrest is a man named Mohammad Rehan, a Jaish activist picked up at a mosque in Karachi that is linked to the group, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the information.
    Shahzad is believed to have spent time in Karachi on his most recent trip to Pakistan last year.
    The official said Rehan may have been the person who took Shahzad to Peshawar, a gateway for foreigners seeking to travel into nearby tribal regions where militant groups have long had sanctuary.
    The army claimed to have decisively beaten the Pakistani Taliban in an offensive late last year in South Waziristan. But the notion that the Pakistani Taliban are on the ropes has been shaken by continued bombings in Pakistan, the emergence of videos of a top commander previously believed to have been killed and the group’s claim of responsibility for the Times Square bomb attempt.
    In an undated letter obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press, the militant commander, Hakimullah Mehsud, threatened attacks on America and Pakistan in retaliation for the conviction in the United States of Aafia Siddiqui, a 37-year old Pakistani scientist.
    Siddiqui was convicted in New York in February of trying to kill American service personnel in Afghanistan. Her case has triggered anger among Pakistani Islamist groups and in sections of the media, where she is portrayed as innocent.
    The letter is addressed to Siddiqui’s sister, Fozia, who is campaigning for her release.
    “We are with you in the pain you have suffered in connection with Aafia Siddiqui. God willing, we will give a reply to America and the cruel rulers in Pakistan in such a way they will remember for their whole life.”
    The letter was given to the AP by a reporter for the local TV station that first reported its existence.
    The reporter said it was seized from an arrested aide to Hakimullah and never reached Fozia.
    Associated Press reporter Riaz Khan in Pabbi and Zarar Khan in Peshawar contributed to this report



    Shahzad’s father, Bahar-ul-Haq, hurriedly vacated the family home in Peshawar late on Tuesday to avoid attention, according to Pakistan’s the News newspaper. Witnesses said he packed some belongings in a vehicle and left with family members, it said.

    Shahzad’s family is from the farming village of Mohib Banda, home to 5,000 people, in the Pabbi district. A tiny, dusty road snakes through fields of wheat, maize and rice crops to the village, 125 km (75 miles) northwest of Islamabad.

    Residents expressed disbelief at Shahzad’s arrest.

    “This is our son,” retired school teacher Nazirullah Khan told Reuters by telephone. “I recognised him. Last time when I met him, he didn’t have a beard. I attended his wedding.”

    New York court documents said Shahzad returned to the United States on Feb. 3 on a one-way ticket from U.S. ally Pakistan, where he had spent the last five months visiting his parents.

    Security officials say Shahzad’s parents resided in Peshawar, the city hit hardest by Pakistani Taliban suicide bombings. They said he also has a Karachi residency card.

    A senior security official said he may have links through a friend and a mosque to the banned Jaish-e-Mohammad militant group, which is dedicated to fighting Indian forces in Kashmir and is designated a terrorist organisation by the United States.

    Members of Shahzad’s extended family, including his father-in-law, have also been detained, according to CNN.

    Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Shahzad’s family “are on our radar”. “He is from an educated family. We are looking into how he got radicalised,” Malik told Reuters.

    There are plenty of examples of people with a respectable past who turned to jihad — al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden hails from Saudi Arabia’s elite, his Egyptian deputy Ayman al-Zawahri was born into an upper-class family of doctors and scholars in an upscale Cairo neighbourhood. Mohammed Atta, leader of the 9/11 hijackers, enrolled as a graduate student in Germany.

    Aside from struggling against a Taliban insurgency, Pakistan also faces threats from foreign would-be fighters trying to link up with Pakistani militants through the Internet.

    In March, a Pakistani court formally charged five young Americans of plotting terrorism in the country.

    Pakistan has in the past nurtured militant groups to fight in Indian-controlled Kashmir and mujahideen to fight Soviet occupation troops in Afghanistan.

    After the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks Pakistan, under enormous American pressure, joined the U.S. war on terror, although questions have arisen about its level of commitment.

    (Writing by Michael Georgy; Additional reporting by Faisal Aziz, Zeeshan Haider; Editing by Chris Allbritton and Paul Tait)


  6. Courtesy New Pakistan blog (received via email):

    Ambassador Husain Haqqani Discusses Faisal Shahzad Case
    May 05, 2010 — Ambassador Husain Haqqani discusses the attempted bombing of New York’s Times Square, the capture of Faisal Shahzad, and the cooperation between American and Pakistani law enforcement to solve the case and bring those responsible to justice.

  7. “Carved out of the Muslim-majority areas of British India in 1947, it was the world’s first modern nation based solely on Islam.”

    The rest of the article by Sadanand Dhume may very well be good, interesting and / or useful but I will come back to read it once I have gotten over the absurdity of the opening line. These wanna-be historians need to get their facts straight and nuances polished.

  8. Terrorist
    I was really disappointed when I know about Faisal Shahzad, I don’t consider Faisal Shehzad or Ajmal Kasab as Pakistani because our religion or our country never support a person to disturb the peace of other country and kill innocent people. Terrorists have no nationality. Pakistan is facing terrorism itself so it would never take a risk to support such people that spoil the image of Pakistan before world.

  9. I think its a plot against Pakistan, made by US itself. If you look at facts, the bombs were never meant to explode as the bombs he purchased were extremely weak. According to an ex US Fed analyst Joseph King states that maybe the Feds themselves let him board the plane. Please keep in mind that he was stopped by Border patrol, and Emirates has refused to comment only saying that all necessary security measures have taken place.
    I also don’t understand why he would leave his keys and belongings in the car, and why would he leave some of his explosives in his home. Sheesh … I think his purpose was to be arrested !

  10. This guy should be shot dead. He has brought disgrace to all Pakistanis. Now Pakistanis living abroad are more suspect than ever

  11. @Omar Khattab This disgraceful Pakistani American must be awarded an exemplary punishment by a court of law.

    His apologists in Pakistani media and politics must also be arrested immediately, including those who brainwashed him (e.g., Ansar Abbasi, Dr Shahid Masood, Javed Chaudhry, Imran Khan and Munawar Hassan).

  12. http://www.americansforpakistan.com/blog-posts/ethan-casey-some-of-my-best-friends-are-pakistanis/

    SAN DIEGO, May 4 – As I write this, the news that the man arrested for trying to blow up Times Square is a U.S. citizen of Pakistani origin has only begun to sink in. What is this going to mean for other U.S. citizens of Pakistani origin – and for me, as their friend?

    This article’s headline is an ironic allusion to something people used to say to disavow bigotry: “Some of my best friends are Jews.” It’s also a straight statement of fact: some of my best friends are Pakistanis. And I want the world to know that, especially in these times and at this moment, because I think it’s very important for us to remember that not all U.S. citizens of Pakistani origin blow stuff up.

    Assuming we’re being told the truth about 30-year-old Faisal Shahzad of Bridgeport, Connecticut, it might be fair to ask: With friends like these, who needs enemies? But it’s precisely because of the horrific misguidedness of a dangerous few that we need to stay calm and remind ourselves and each other that we’re all in this together. I said exactly this, in fact, on Sunday when I spoke in support of The Citizens Foundation at the South Asian American Arts Festival put on by Zanbeel Art at the Santa Monica Art Studios. I’ll say it again tonight, when I speak to the Pakistani Students Association at UC-San Diego.

    The Citizens Foundation is one of several well-run nonprofits supported by the largely very suburban and middle-class Pakistani-American community that are quietly doing the most urgently necessary work: providing education, and thereby hope and self-respect, to the burgeoning young generation of the Pakistani poor. Too quietly: groups like TCF-USA must start tooting their own horns more assertively to the American public. I would go so far as to say that countering the impression of Pakistanis conveyed by the likes of Faisal Shahzad is not only an opportunity for the Pakistani-American community, but an obligation.

    I’m not saying that Pakistani Americans have to prove that they’re not terrorists. The rest of us must remember that there is no such thing as collective guilt, and that the presumption of innocence is a basic American principle. I am saying that the existing institutions of Pakistani America need to move – now – beyond inviting each other to the existing endless round of charity fundraisers, worthy and useful as those are. Pakistani Americans are a remarkably talented and resourceful community who pay a lot of money to the U.S. Treasury in taxes and contribute very substantially to American society as physicians, engineers, teachers and business people. For better or worse, Americans listen to people who insist on being heard, and if you don’t toot your own horn, nobody else is gonna toot it for you.

    My writing and public speaking are all about emphasizing to Americans the humanity of Pakistanis, their experience of and views on contemporary history, the complexity of their political and geographical situation, and the enjoyable and interesting apects of my own experience of Pakistan, dating back to 1995. As my friend Todd Shea likes to say, Americans hear 2% of Pakistan’s story 98% of the time. I feel very fortunate to have experienced Pakistan directly at a relatively innocent time both in history and in my own life, before the country’s name became a dirty word in the West. We can’t go back to that time, but we can remember it – and we can and should take a deep breath, reach out to each other as allies, and work together to do what needs to be done.

    What needs to be done? Young Pakistanis need to be given hope and self-respect by way of education and jobs. This is already being done by The Citizens Foundation, by Developments in Literacy – at whose San Diego fundraiser I’ll be speaking this Saturday, May 8 – by the Human Development Foundation, by Pakistani pop star Shehzad Roy’s Zindagi Trust, and famously by Greg Mortenson.

    But why is Greg Mortenson’s the only one of these efforts that’s well known? Part of the answer, of course, is that he’s white: church ladies and Oprah watchers can relate to him as a virtual nephew or brother-in-law. This is fine. But we need to get beyond the toxic supposition that America is primarily a “white” and/or Christian country. It’s not, anymore, and that’s a good thing.

    So the other thing that needs to be done is that the Pakistani community needs to ratchet up both its involvement in American society and politics and its visibility. Call up your local schools and churches, invite your neighbors to your home, all that good stuff, and by all means enlist me, Todd Shea, and Greg Mortenson as envoys. But also support Pakistani-American and other Muslim candidates for public office; insist on meetings with existing officeholders, not only but especially those you consider hostile to Muslims or Pakistan; and support and expand the lobbying work of groups like the Pakistani American Leadership Center and the Council of Pakistan American Affairs. Get in the American public’s face, as fellow Americans, and help us all begin having a more honest conversation about Pakistan, America, terrorism, and where our countries and world are headed.

    And I ask two things of my fellow non-Pakistani Americans: Go to the trouble of educating yourselves about Pakistan – my books and inviting me to speak are, indeed, good places to start. And, when you see pictures of Faisal Shahzad over the coming days, keep in mind that, except for the buzz cut, Tim McVeigh looked a lot like me.

    ETHAN CASEY is the author of the travel books Alive and Well in Pakistan: A Human Journey in a Dangerous Time (2004) and Overtaken By Events: A Pakistan Road Trip (2010). They are available online at http://www.aliveandwellinpakistan.com/books/ and http://www.facebook.com/ethancaseyfans, and he can be emailed at ethan@ethancasey.com. He is pursuing a master’s degree in South Asian Studies in the Henry M. Jackson School of International Studies at the University of Washington.

  13. New York Attack & Pakistan
    By Bilal Qureshi
    Writing in Wall Street Journal, Sadanand Dhume asks the obvious question:

    Why do Pakistan and the Pakistani diaspora churn out such a high proportion of the world’s terrorists? Indonesia has more Muslims than Pakistan. Turkey is geographically closer to the troubles of the Middle East. The governments of Iran and Syria are immeasurably more hostile to America and the West. Yet it is Pakistan, or its diaspora, that produced the CIA shooter Mir Aimal Kasi; the 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef (born in Kuwait to Pakistani parents); 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed; Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl’s kidnapper, Omar Saeed Sheikh; and three of the four men behind the July 2005 train and bus bombings in London. The list of jihadists not from Pakistan themselves—but whose passage to jihadism passes through that country—is even longer. Among them are Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri, Mohamed Atta, shoe bomber Richard Reid, and John Walker Lindh, the so-called American Taliban. Over the past decade, Pakistani fingerprints have shown up on terrorist plots in, among other places, Germany, Denmark, Spain and the Netherlands. And this partial catalogue doesn’t include India, which tends to bear the brunt of its western neighbor’s love affair with violence. In attempting to explain why so many attacks—abortive and successful—can be traced back to a single country, analysts tend to dwell on the 1980s, when Pakistan acted as a staging ground for the successful American and Saudi-funded jihad against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan.

    Almost everyone is trying to understand as to why Pakistan is behind so many, in fact, almost all of the terrorist attacks in the last 10 years. But, sadly, if there is one group of people not interested in exploring this question is the population of Pakistan. There are voices of reason in Pakistan, don’t get me wrong, but they are shouted down by aggressive bigots who are always creating doubts about the guilt of thugs and terrorists and coming up the same answer about everything that goes wrong in this world – America is behind it to attack Muslims. And, this mind set is the root cause of Pakistan’s troubles and these troubles result in dangers that civilized people in Pakistan and around the world face these days.

    Something has to be done to stop it permanently.

    Thank God Faisal Shahzad failed in his hideous attempt to harm civilians in America, but his cowardly act has brought attention back to the future of Pakistan and everyone else who is interested in living in peace.

    Ordinarily, you’d think that people in Pakistan are upset and ashamed about the attempted bombing of New York City because it is linked to Pakistan, again, but I was surprised by the antagonistic attitude that was visible in the coverage, at least in one leading Urdu daily and on a leading TV channel that is also owned by the same people who run one of the largest publications of Urdu and English dailies in Pakistan. And, once again, the verdict in Pakistan is the same: “This is a plot to keep Pakistan under pressure, or this entire attack this is a smoke screen to keep Pakistan bombing and so forth.” Anchors on TV (who are all staunchly anti American and pro Taliban with very very few exceptions) gathered up all the usual hard core pro militants ‘experts’ and ‘analysts’ (these experts and analysts pretend to be journalists) and the circus begins on TV. Especially maddening is the attitude of a despicable anchor who does his show from Karachi and he came pretty close to directly accusing Obama of staging this attack. I don’t know whether this negative approach towards America is some kind of mental sickness or it is just plain stupidity, but whatever it is, it is driving rest of the world mad. Pakistan has to come out of this denial and the country must deal with this increasing problem of militancy.

    Believe me, America has other problems: debt, inflation, unemployment, etc and Americans don’t have time or the resources to stage elaborate schemes so that they could continue to engage in foreign wars. If America wants to attack a country, they don’t need the approval, nor do they have to come with a plan to justify their attack – Iraq is a clear example. I take no stand on Iraq, and only history will tell whether it was the right decision or not, but I am trying to make a point here that Americans don’t do dramas – if they are convinced about something, they will act.

    I am not sure how to convince the conspiracy theorists in Pakistan that it is in their interest to defeat the terrorists. It is Pakistan that is at risk more than any other country and for their own future, people in Pakistan must come together to realize that they have a problem, a very serious problem and they must not waste any more time. And if they really love Pakistan, they would do something about it instead of finding excuses for thugs like Faisal Shahzad.

    Finally, people like Faisal Shahzad should leave the country if they don’t like it. He has gone to prison for rest of his life, but it is the community, yes, and Shahzad’s community that has come under tremendous scrutiny just because Shahzad lost sanity.

    Today, every Muslim, and more importantly, every Pakistani is a suspect.