A Pakistan native

Posted by sepoy on May 06, 2010 · 2 mins read

"He usually walks around alone, looking lonely and kind of depressed usually," said Nejilia Gayden, 18, of Bridgeport. "Sometimes he'll mumble to himself."

Mr. Shahzad, Mr. Chomiak said, mentioned that he wanted to grow tomatoes.

A Pakistani man said that an acquaintance of his who was a friend of the Shahzad family told him that within the past year, Mr. Shahzad had peered critically at a glass of whiskey the friend was holding, indicating a judgmental stance typical for rigid jihadis.

Another family friend in Pakistan, Kifayat Ali, called Mr. Shahzad “emotional” and said that he used to carry a dagger around with him as a boy.

Aliou Niasse, a street vendor selling framed photographs of New York, said that he was the first to spot the car containing the bomb, which pulled up right in front of his cart on the corner of 45th street and Broadway next to the Marriott hotel.

“I didn't see the car pull up or notice the driver because I was busy with customers. But when I looked up I saw that smoke appeared to be coming from the car. This would have been around 6.30pm.

“I thought I should call 911, but my English is not very good and I had no credit left on my phone, so I walked over to Lance, who has the T-shirt stall next to mine, and told him. He said we shouldn't call 911. Immediately he alerted a police officer near by,” said Mr Niasse, who is originally from Senegal and who has been a vendor in Times Square for about eight years.


null | May 06, 2010

"Mr. Shahzad had peered critically at a glass of whiskey the friend was holding, indicating a judgmental stance typical for rigid jihadis. " This if funny - My 80 plus grandmother would too stare critically at someone drinking alcohol so may be she is jihadi too !

Omar | May 06, 2010

Null, the whisky glass test is sensitive but not specific (and only applies to Muslims; if your religion does not enforce prohibition then this test is irrelevant). That means that if a Muslim friend does NOT look askance at your whisky glass, then he is not a jihadi but if he does look askance, then he COULD be a jihadi. The test has too many false positives in the case of women and should only be applied to young muslim males (who are the demographic most likely to explode, so that objection does not nullify the test)....hope that clears things up.

omar | May 07, 2010

My piece about Faisal bhai: http://wichaar.com/news/284/ARTICLE/20008/2010-05-07.html And the piece fails to thank Monty Python and professor MBokhari for the dead parrot sketch and its use in reference to the late lamented caliphate.

omar | May 07, 2010

Actually, the helpful web geniuses at Wichaar corrected that oversight just now. Monty Python and MBokhari are now formally thanked at the end of the piece.

Khurram | May 08, 2010

If it was a glass of single malt whiskey with a couple of ice cubes in it, I'd "peer critically" at it too....

omar | May 11, 2010

My piece about this (in slightly more mature form) on Outlook: http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?265398

Salman | May 11, 2010

Omar, Congrats! I got a kick out of the "On a purely western and academic left wing blog" bit. And I agree with the use of the word "slightly" in your comment ;) but I have to say, I had more fun reading your piece than Fouad Ajami's. Let's celebtrate by reading a review of (hz)Tariq Ali(RA)'s Islam Quintet: http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100507/REVIEW/705069992/1008

omar | May 11, 2010

slightly indeed! But thats OK. After all, this is a planet on which Tariq Ali is a serious commentator....

Salman | May 11, 2010

LOL! You have a point there.

sepoy | May 11, 2010


omar | May 11, 2010

Sepoy, wasnt it obvious? I am obviously not at an elite University humanities department ...my crude remarks about Edward bhai (may peace be upon him) must have been a dead giveaway. Not that I am prejudiced against the humanities. In fact, some of my best friends are in the humanities. btw, I hope this doesnt mean I am to be kicked off the airwaves.....

Akbar | May 11, 2010

Omar; dude congratulations for the piece in outlinkindia.com asmentioned above. To me though CM is the ultimate form when talking about homistan(off course I am biased). Not that I want to rain on your parade but do you seriously think that this guy was trying to revive Caliphate with the help of 3 Propane cylinders, firecrackers and non-combustible fertilizer while his personal life was unravelling. As physicians could we not broaden the differential diagnosis to include; 1)May be this guy has gone over the deep end "This is somebody who left the keys to his apartment in the ignition of the would-be car bomb, and had to call his landlord to be let into his Connecticut digs. He spent all of a month planning the attack, and used the wrong kind of fertilizer for his bomb — the device could never have gone off. So much for all that "training" he supposedly received from the Pakistani Taliban. And one little detail does stand out, amid all the leakage coming out of law enforcement circles. According to Newsweek, when federal agents boarded his Emirates flight to Dubai on the runway at JFK airport, Shahzad said: "I was expecting you. Are you NYPD or FBI?" " http://original.antiwar.com/justin/2010/05/06/is-faisal-shahzad-crazy/ Or 2) May be he is a useful idiot "In an extraordinarily open and transparent recruitment drive, Dennis Blair, who as director of National Intelligence is the country's top intelligence czar, held a round-table discussion last week with the Pakistani-American community in Washington to seek their cooperation and offer jobs in US agencies. "We need you to help us build a better relationship between the United States and Pakistan," Blair told some two dozen Pakistani-Americans who came to the meeting. Citing a common threat faced by both nations, Blair said Pakistan is an important US ally in the fight against terrorists and violent extremists, but "understanding needs to be improved on both sides and Pakistani-Americans can help bridge the gaps". Their language skills and cultural expertise would make them extremely valuable professionals in the Intelligence Community, he added. The roundtable discussion was the first of its kind under the umbrella of the Intelligence Community Heritage Liaison Council, which is a sounding board for Blair on recruiting first- and second-generation Americans for employment in US intelligence agencies, his office said in a statement. The Office of the Directorate of National Intelligence, headed by Blair, oversees 16 federal organizations that make up the US Intelligence Community, including CIA and FBI among others. What was remarkable about the outreach meeting was the presence there of Pakistani ambassador to the US, Hussain Haqqani, amid strong resentment in Pakistan about the activities of the US intelligence agencies there and the uneasy relationship between the CIA and the ISI in the Af-Pak theater. Far from being shifty or secretive, the statement from Blair's office suggested the Pakistani-American participants were quite gung-ho about cooperating with US intelligence agencies." http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/us/Once-bitten-US-still-seeks-Pak-American-spies/articleshow/5493369.cms 3)May be we do not know the whole story yet? Here is Steve coll "WERMAN: Tell us how someone like Faisal Shahzad, an American citizen with family connections in the Pakistani military apparently, he turns up in a place like Peshawar for bomb making training. How would he have been received by jihadis? COLL: Well he probably would have been assessed as a potential U.S. spy, carrying a U.S. passport and not necessarily having deep connections to the jihadi movement, so there would most likely have been an air of caution around his claims as a volunteer. What you can see, circumstantially, is something that has definitely occurred in other cases like his where the jihadi groups say to a new arrival of that type, much as a street gang might say to a 14-year-old volunteer, oh you really want to play in the big time? Well go do something and then come back. Go bring me the broom of the wicked witch of the west. I don't fully trust you, I'm not going to take you into our headquarters and reveal anything that you could betray, but if you're here to tell me that you're truly a volunteer, then here's an opportunity. Go back to your country and do something, then we'll know you're for real. That is give him enough to do some damage, but not enough to damage you in terms of information about your own operations." http://www.theworld.org/2010/05/05/times-square-suspect/ 4) Let us say media and government Annonymous sources are telling the whole truth, then some well informed people have the following take; "What do we know about the drama of the SUV? It was spotted burning, the fire was put out, propane tanks, fireworks and fertilizer were ominously packed inside, and the owner was arrested as he was about to fly off to Dubai. Certainly these are suggestive and even alarming facts. But little more is known about the suspect, an American citizen born in Pakistan, or his actions. Within hours, however, purported details attached to this incident spewed out like ash from a hyperactive crater. Faisal Shahzad, the 30-year-old suspect, received terrorist training in Waziristan; he was in league with Taliban groups in Pakistan; he had met with radical Taliban leaders; his father was friendly with Pakistani radicals; he was angered by deaths of militants killed by U.S. drones operating over Pakistani territory; he was coached by Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born imam targeted for assassination by the Obama administration; he was captured in the nick of time by secret military spy planes scooping up cell phone calls over New York City; his wife's relatives lived in the same Colorado town where Najibullah Zazi, the would-be subway bomber, lived. All of this supposed information, dripping with conspiracy and 21st century terror, was leaked by anonymous investigators or federal officials to newspaper and broadcast reporters here and abroad. How do these alleged links and facts hold up to what is actually known? If nothing else, questions should abound about the quality of terrorist training going on in Waziristan. If Shahzad created a “car bomb” he was profoundly inept. He packed away fertilizer that does not explode and he sought to ignite it with firecrackers designed not to detonate each other. The tanks of propane gas did not have their caps removed, rendering them useless as explosives...." http://www.juancole.com and here "And then there's the question of why he tried to do this. Based on the still-sketchy information I've read so far, it seems likely that he wanted to kill Americans in New York City because he didn't like our killing people in Central Asia. (Most of our victims are suspected terrorists, but we sometimes kill innocent civilians by mistake). Whether he was acting alone or in cahoots with Pakistani extremists, his abortive attack was probably a response to our efforts to eradicate terrorist groups in Pakistan via drone strikes and other special operations. In short, he decided to enlist in the "war on terror," but not on America's side." http://walt.foreignpolicy.com The speed with which all the information about alleged attacker, his colloboration with now dead, now alive Hakkem ullah Mehsud, getting instructions from Mullah Bradar and our Sec. of State, reading riot acts to Pakistan, makes this ongoing saga very interesting to say the least.

Salman | May 11, 2010

Omar, I think as long as you blame the CIA and orientalism and colonialism, once in a while, I'm sure you'll be fine. Besides, it's not like no contrary opinion can sneak in here. After all, like you said, "we are all liberals here" ;) {{site.baseurl}}archives/homistan/who_is_zaid_hamid.html/comment-page-2#comment-159740

omar | May 12, 2010

Salman, Of course I was joking about the "kicked off the airwaves" part. Akbar, Thank you for aggregating all the conspiracy theories in one place. Personally, I am sticking with the NYPD's version in this case. But this is a liberal blog, you are free to pick any theory you like, or even better, not pick one and list all of them and invite people to ponder. OR, you could interact with a lot of the young men I grew up with and still communicate with liberal blogs are not my only hangout). It helps to narrow things down (in this case, not in all cases) to Islamist or dupe, both of which are fully compatible with my theory of "Islamist moron" (not saying all islamists are morons, some are actually very very smart)..... Anyway, people who deny that Pakistan is illiberal are implicitly saying that its good to be liberal. As liberals, how can we not approve of that? And if someone is against colonialism, imperialism, islamism, nationalism, essentialism, orientalism and fascism and prefers to take this opportunity to bash the American establishment, why not? Its all good. We are on the same side, even when we argue. In fact, especially when we argue.

Akbar | May 12, 2010

And if someone is against colonialism, imperialism, islamism, nationalism, essentialism, orientalism and fascism and prefers to take this opportunity to bash the American establishment, why not? Just to be devils advocate, Here is what General "King David" Petraeus incharge OF CENTCOM (a person very much part of American eastablishment and supposedly with the best intelligence information on the ground) has to say about FS "Faisal Shahzad apparently was "a lone wolf" who never had direct contact with militants in his homeland of Pakistan, Gen. David Petraeus told The Associated Press." http://www.nydailynews.com/ny_local/2010/05/07/2010-05- Here is Jeff Stein in Wa. Po . "Putting aside the propriety of the government's top law enforcement official pinning the failed Times Square bomb on an individual before he's entered a plea -- and that's a big put-aside, no matter what the suspect has told detectives -- how can Holder be so certain that Shahzad is a virtual agent of the Pakistani Taliban so early in the investigation? And why is Holder suddenly saying the rights of suspects against self-incrimination under duress, even American citizens, need to be "modified" in terrorism cases? The attorney general's remarks, echoed by White House terrorism adviser John Brennan on Sunday TV, smack of politics, however understandable as a preemptive move against the far more crass Republicans and Tea Baggers who smear the Democrats as “weak on terrorism” at every opportunity. As Ahmed Rashid put it in The Washington Post last Tuesday, not even the terrorists know who's on first from day to day in the lawless regions of Pakistan's northwest. How would Holder?........................................... Indeed, Gen. David Petraeus, who, as the top U.S. commander for the Middle East, presumably possesses the best intelligence on the area, declared that Shahzad acted as a "lone wolf" who was "inspired by militants in Pakistan but didn't have direct contact with them. .................................... “Petraeus,” Baer said, “seems to be the only one these days feeling secure enough to tell the truth" http://blog.washingtonpost.com/spy-talk/2010/05/holder_company_jump_the_gun_on.html "

Salman | May 12, 2010

The Making of a Terrorist By ROBERT WRIGHT http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/05/11/the-making-of-a-terrorist/

omar | May 13, 2010

The point Robert Wright is making is so obvious that it is only because we live in FOX news country that we even have to mention it. But that point (that "jihadi intent" is not a one point explanation for anything; many different factors combine to make the story of any bomber in any country in any age) is only the start of another story: what should Obama do? Or, to make it more specific, are drone attacks a good idea or not? The answer, to a pragmatist and "evidence-based" thinker like Wright, is not obvious on moral grounds. It depends. Do they do more harm than good? He thinks they do more harm than good. Other people disagree. But in his world, this is an emprical argument and in principle, he could be FOR drone attacks if the evidence shows more benefit than harm. I would keep that in mind before getting too close to hazrat Wright.

Qalandar | May 13, 2010

Cheap shot notwithstanding, congrats on the Outlook piece daaktarsaab :-)

omar | May 13, 2010

Qalandar, Thanks. And given that there may have been more than one cheap shot in there, which one were you referring to?

Salman | May 13, 2010

Oops, I just realized that in my earlier comment (#13), I didn't post the right link for the “we are all liberals here” bit, to go with the "where no contrary opinion can sneak in" bit :){{site.baseurl}}archives/homistan/who_is_zaid_hamid.html/comment-page-2#comment-159192

Salman | May 13, 2010

"In 2007, the anthropologist Talal Asad published a slim but powerful book with the understated title On Suicide Bombing, whose real subject, despite its name, is the way that we think and talk about acts of terrorism after they take place. Attention is naturally focused on the process by which an “ordinary” person acquires the desire to commit violent acts — and analysts, professional and amateur, search feverishly to construct an account of the attacker's motivations, which Asad calls “inevitably fictions that justify our responses but that we cannot verify.” So it is that, in the days after Faisal Shahzad drove from Connecticut to park his “amateurish” car bomb in New York's Times Square, we saw a rush to dissect every aspect of his existence in the hopes of determining a precise set of causes that could “explain” his apparently sudden transformation from immigrant striver to enemy combatant." "What makes a terrorist?" - Jonathan Shainin May 12. 2010 http://www.thenational.ae/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20100514/REVIEW/705139998/1008

Qalandar | May 13, 2010

Omar: I was referring to this one: "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. "

Postcards from the Archive: Goodbye 2010 | January 02, 2011

[...] started in 2009 continued in 2010: amidst growing alienation, Faisal Shehzad became the face of a “Pakistan native;” Pakistan's originary myth remained tied to spectacular events; Zaid Hamid was given thorough [...]