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Faisal Shahzad

by The Clarkbar84 7 months ago in guilty
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Times Square Bombing

Faisal Shahzad

Faisal Shahzad was born in Pakistan on June 30, 1979. His father, Bahar ul-Haq, was a retired Pakistani Air Force official that made enough to provide an upper-middle-class life, and he sent his children to school in the United States (Mayko, 2010). Faisal moved to the United States for school in 1998 and gained his citizenship in May 2009. Faisal lived in Shelton, Connecticut, earning both a BA and MBA in business from the University of Bridgeport in 2000.

Despite having a master’s degree in Business, Faisal was only able to find work as a financial analyst for Affinion Group, which paid 50,000 dollars a year (Adams, 2010). Faisal worked in Norwalk, which was a 35-minute commute; his wife, Huma Anif Mian, at the time had a decent job but quit to raise the children. According to his neighbors, the only visitors that Faisal had over were his wife’s friends or her family. Faisal had purchased their home in 2004 for $273,000, which was a three-bedroom house off Long Hill Avenue in Shelton, for themselves and their two children (Altimari, 2010). However, from 2006 to 2008, Faisal had attempted to sell his home as the housing market began to collapse; finally, in 2009, he took out a second mortgage for $65,000 (Adams, 2010).

During their home purchase and between 2005–2006, Huma Mian applied for Faisal to receive his green card, which was approved in January 2006. Then in October 2008, Faisal applied for US citizenship, and finally, on April 17, 2009, Faisal was sworn in as a US citizen; two months later, Faisal departed for Pakistan (Kephart, 2010). Faisal came back to the United States three weeks after his visit, only to have his house foreclosure from Chase bank, stating he missed four mortgage payments and owes $212,000 (Altimari, 2010). Faisal then travels back to Pakistan to be with his parents; according to one of Faisal’s neighbors, Faisal had stated that it was custom in his culture to take care of his parents (Adams, 2010).

Faisal Shahzad’s grievances stem from a mix of slowly losing the American dream and beginning to falter into debt while also seeing his fellow Pakistanis die around him. He also believes that Americans were close-minded to the world and not aware of what was around them. This grievance started in 2007 when Pakistani commandos stormed the Red Mosque in Islamabad, leaving more than one hundred dead. This Mosque was one that Faisal used when visiting his parents, and many militant websites stated it was the corrupt government trying to please America (Elliott, 2010). Then when Faisal stays with his parents in Peshawar, U.S. Drone strikes occur in Pakistan, this causes Faisal to head down towards his path of radicalization (Difo, 2010).

Road to Radicalization

Faisal’s road to radicalization was a slow burn of frustration born out of his economic distress, his Mosque in Pakistani being raided, and visiting family to see U.S. Drone strikes killing his people. Faisal was already feeling alienated from his society in America. Through social media connections, he could connect with like-minded individuals who would introduce him to extremist groups. Faisal was also influenced by websites that encouraged extremist religious views. Faisal would also search for militant training camps around Pakistan (Abbas, 2010). Faisal decided to turn to violence out of duty for his friends and fellow Muslims, not because of religion, but because he was tired of seeing his people killed (Difo, 2010).

These events caused Faisal to begin training with the Pakistani Taliban or Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP). For two months, Faisal lived and trained with the TTP, learning how to build explosives, and being inspired by online sermons from Anwar al-Awlaki, a member of the al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). Faisal returned to America in February 2010 and received two payments through a hawala system of $12,000 to purchase materials for an attack (Counter Extremism Project, 2021).

Sageman’s Four Prongs Radicalization Process

Faisal Shahzad is a perfect candidate for Sageman’s Four Prongs Radicalization model. This model is done within a sequential order, though it is non-linear and emergent, but is based on four factors. The first factor is “Sense of Moral Outrage,” or one believing that events have stepped on their morals. Faisal was already dealing with financial debt, where he was an average student throughout college. However, he still retains an MBA in business and could only get a job making $50,000. The purchase of his home left him drowning his money into it until he quit paying his mortgage altogether. Faisal went to work and came home, never having visitors unless it was family, and he felt like no one around him could relate. This was part of his outrage; the other part began in 2007 when his Mosque was raided on what he believes was a corrupt Pakistani government’s way of pleasing America (King, 2011, p. 605).

The second phase of Sageman’s Four Prongs is the frame used to interpret the world. Sageman uses Islamists’ extremist view that the West is waging war against them. All Western countries are united in their strategies to confront them, allowing extremists to view this as a single narrative (King, 2011, p. 608). In the case of Faisal, his framework of the world, he believes that he was a Muslim soldier (Tennant, 2010) that it was his duty to fight against the oppression of the West. Faisal created this framework since his Mosque was attacked, and while staying with his parents, the drone strikes kept occurring. Faisal’s narrative was that his fellow Muslims were dying in his homeland, and he felt that the same attacks should happen in the West. This is apparent in a TTP video release featuring Faisal Shahzad, where he states,

“I also want to inform my brothers Muslim living abroad [sic] that it is not difficult at all to wage an attack on the West, and specifically in the US, and completely defeat them inshallah. Get up and learn from me and make an effort. Nothing is impossible if you just keep in mind that Allah is with you.” (Shahzad, TTP Video)

Sageman’s third stage is “Resonance with personal experience” during this stage, the individual feels that their morals are violated and may feel discriminated against (King, 2011, p. 608). Faisal was feeling this way while in Pakistan, staying with his parents; he watched as drones’ strikes would occur and kill his fellow Muslims; he watched as drones killed without regard if it were women or children; to him, the United States was killing all Muslims. This made Faisal feel discriminated against in the United States, where he was a Muslim that was a United States citizen. While visiting his family, he had to worry about being killed by United States drones, let alone his family being killed after he left.

It is essential to state that these three prongs can quickly reinforce each other, which aids in adding to the discrimination. For instance, Faisal felt moral outrage due to his firsthand experiences; he felt discriminated against because he was Muslim, this fueled his ideas of his morals being violated. Finally, all these factors lead to the fourth prong, “Mobilization through networks” Sageman states that like-minded people are needed for radicalization to occur; others must agree with the views of the individual. Therefore, this wave of terrorism should be considered a social movement (King, 2011, p. 608).

For Faisal, this was a social movement; the Taliban were gaining a disgruntled soldier with the United States and wanted to protect his people. The Taliban only needed to use the media already out there; Faisal had reached out and found them through the internet and found like-minded people that introduced him to the extremism groups (Difo, 2010).

Times Square Bombing and Aftermath

Faisal had a mission, and that was to prove to his fellow Muslims that the West could be attacked as well, that his fellow Muslims needed to follow his lead and bring the war to American soil. Faisal stated in his trial that the drones do not see women or children, it is war, and they kill people, but they are killing Muslims. Therefore, Faisal targeted American citizens; he felt that since Americans elected their government, they were just as guilty as the government attacking his people.

Faisal had decided that his target would-be Times Square, Manhattan. Using the money from the TTP, Faisal purchased a semi-automatic 9-millimeter Kel-Tec rifle and a Nissan Pathfinder off an internet advertisement for $1,300 (Office of the Attorney General, 2010). Faisal used the Pathfinder to construct a fertilizer bomb broken down into three sections. The bomb was in the car’s trunk within a gun cabinet, if that did not go off, the second section was gas cylinders within the car, and the final piece was petrol gas that would make the car catch on fire (Adams, 2010).

The Pathfinder was parked near 45th Street and Seventh Avenue in New York on May 1, 2010, when citizens reported that smoke was coming out of the car. The FBI joined the NYPD to investigate the scene and found two alarm clocks, firecrackers, gas cans, propane tanks, a pressure cooker, and fertilizer (FBI, 2020).

The FBI traced the Pathfinder to Faisal. US Customs and Border Protection identified Faisal leaving for Dubai on May 3, 2010, from the John F. Kennedy International Airport: Faisal was arrested and confessed to his crimes (FBI, 2020). Faisal was indicted on ten federal offenses to which he pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison (Office of the Attorney General, 2010).

Following the attempted bombing and arrest, both AQAP and TTP used Faisal as propaganda material. He was featured in AQAP’s magazine Inspire. He was used in TTP propaganda videos, urging Muslims to attack the United States (Counter Extremism Project, 2021).

Faisal tried to use his trial as a platform to express his views, even preparing a statement, which was denied in court. Judge Cedarbaum, however, let him speak from memory. Faisal spoke of the drone strikes and killing of Muslims; he spoke about targeting citizens. He stated that he was the answer to the US for terrorizing Muslim nations and that he was avenging, that American’s only cared about Americans (Tennant, 2010). In the end, Faisal Shahzad was sentenced to life in prison on October 5, 2010 (Counter Extremism Project, 2021).

Faisal Shahzad was an average individual who lived a quiet life in Connecticut with his wife and kids. He attended college and received his degree, yet he struggled to maintain his home due to financial hardships. Faisal felt alone in the United States, and his only friends were his wife’s family; Faisal slowly began to turn to extremist views out of frustration with his situation. Which he believed was from a corrupt government attempting to please the United States and then seeing his fellow Muslims killed from United States Drone strikes.

Faisal started to search for individuals online that would listen to him and began to look for Taliban groups within Pakistan; he joined up with the TTP in 2009 not out of religious ideas, but as what he believes was a duty of taking care of his countrymen. After receiving training, Faisal traveled back to the United States to bring the war to American soil, only for his bombing attempt to fail, leading to his arrest two days later. Faisal’s road to radicalization matches remarkably with Sageman’s Four Prongs; since Faisal was morally outraged, he could relate to the cause, and he searched out social networks that were like-minded individuals. Faisal Shahzad is a prime example of wrongful causalities in war creating more terrorists.

References

Abbas, H. (2010, May 7). The radicalization of Faisal Shahzad. Foreign Policy The South Asia Channel: https://foreignpolicy.com/2010/05/07/the-radicalization-of-faisal-shahzad/

Adams, L. &. (2010, September 18). Inside the mind of the Times Square bomber. The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2010/sep/19/times-square-bomber

Altimari, D. (2010, May 5). Faisal Shahzad ‘Blended in” Until He Quit Job, Returned to Pakistan. Hartford Courant: https://www.courant.com/news/connecticut/hc-times-square-bomb-faisal-shahzad-conn-0505-story.html

Counter Extremism Project. (2021, August 10). Faisal Shahzad. Counter Extremism Project: https://www.counterextremism.com/extremists/faisal-shahzad

Difo, G. (2010, June 23). The Radicalization of Faisal Shahzad. American Security Project: https://www.americansecurityproject.org/the-radicalization-of-faisal-shahzad/

Elliott, A. (2010, June 22). Militant’s Path From Pakistan to Times Square. The New York Times: https://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/23/world/23terror.html?hp

FBI. (2020, May 1). Artifact of the Month May 2020: Alarm Clocks from the 2010 Times Square Bombing Attempt. FBI History: https://www.fbi.gov/history/artifact-of-the-month/may-2020-alarm-clocks-from-2010-times-square-bombing-attempt

Kephart, J. (2010, May 13). Faisal Shahzad: So Easy, Anyone Can Do It. Center for Immigration Studies: https://cis.org/Memorandum/Faisal-Shahzad-So-Easy-Anyone-Can-Do-It

King, M. &. (2011). The Radicalization of Homegrown Jihadists: A Review of Theoretical Models and Social Psychological Evidence. Terrorism and Political Violence, 602–622.

Mayko, M. P. (2010, May 5). Connecticut Post. Who is Faisal Shahzad?: https://www.ctpost.com/news/article/Who-is-Faisal-Shahzad-474436.php

Office of the Attorney General. (2010, June 21). Faisal Shahzad Pleads Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to 10 Federal Crimes Arising from Attempted Car Bombing in Times Square. Department of Justice: https://www.justice.gov/opa/pr/faisal-shahzad-pleads-guilty-manhattan-federal-court-10-federal-crimes-arising-attempted-car

Shahzad, F. (Director). (2010, July 14). TTP Video [Motion Picture].

Tennant, M. (2010, June 22). Faisal Shahzad: Exhibit A for Noninterventionism. The New American Foreign policy: https://thenewamerican.com/faisal-shahzad-exhibit-a-for-noninterventionism/

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About the author

The Clarkbar84

My mind has stories forming all the time; they tend to get wrapped up in life and never on paper. My works are scattered within real life.

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Kindle Stories: https://www.amazon.com/author/hunteralex

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