09 May 2010

"Why do they hate us?"

Here are selected excerpts from an article in the Telegraph (U.K.) about Faisal Shahzad, who tried to trigger a car bomb in Times Square:
...speculation is growing that it have been mundane money worries and a sense of personal failure that finally sent Shahzad over the edge. Former friends recall a bright, cheerful man who cared little for religion when he got married back in Pakistan six years ago, but whose personality dramatically soured from 2008 onwards - almost in tune with the darkening economic climate.

"He lost his way during the financial problems," said one friend, who asked not to be named. Or, as one Connecticut policeman put it, in rather blunter fashion: "He got screwed by the recession just like the rest of us, only he chose to react the way he did."

Certainly, from what is known about Shahzad's upbringing in Pakistan, there is little obvious sign of other extremist influences. Originally hailing from Mohib Banda, a village near the rugged north-western city of Peshawar, he is the son of Air Vice Marshall Baharul Haq, a high-ranking former officer in the Pakistani military, which is generally regarded as one of the country's more secular institutions.

The family, who were rich and well-respected, were the picture of Pakistani respectability: one sister is a doctor, another is a schoolteacher, and his older brother moved to Canada to work as a mechanical engineer. Shahzad, too, showed early promise, moving to study in the US in 1999 and gaining a degree in computer science. When he married his partner Huma Mian, a Pakistani emigre from Colorado, the wedding back in the old country was notable for mixed couples dancing - another sign that both families had a modern outlook...

Shahzad worked as a financial analyst, while Huma, who raised the couple's two children, listed her passions on a social networking site as "fashion, shoes, bags, shopping!! And of course, Faisal." "They lived well, all right," said a neighbour Brenda Thurman, 37, a restaurant worker. "He worked, she didn't, and she just seemed to shop...

However, by 2008, distinct changes were detected in her husband. Neighbours in their lower-middle class suburb remember rants about George W Bush being a war criminal, and criticism of US drone strikes in the tribal zones of Pakistan. "They shouldn't be shooting people from the sky. You know, they should come down and fight," Shahzad told Dennis Flanner, 17...

Yet it may have been as much troubles on his own doorstep as in the badlands of his native home that proved the final straw. After seeing the family home in Connectict plummet in value between 2007 and 2009, Shahzad left his job and defaulted on the mortgage, quitting the property in May last year. 
Much more at the Telegraph.

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