New York: It was not a sudden spurge of anger against the west, particularly the United States, or an abrupt shift towards radical thoughts that forced Faisal Shahzad, the confessed Times Square bomb plotter of Pakistani origin, to take such an extreme step, but the process of him seeking answers for the killing and sufferings of thousands of fellow Muslim men started almost after the 9/11 incident.
Though Shahzad understood the notion that Islam forbids the killing of innocents, an e-mail that he had sent to his friends in February 2006 clearly suggested that he was struggling with the ‘trial and pathetic conditions’ of Muslims the world over.
“Those who insist only on `peaceful protest`, can you tell me a way to save the oppressed? And a way to fight back when rockets are fired at us and Muslim blood flows?” Shahzad wrote in his lengthy mail to his friends.
Even though he enjoyed a great life in the US, having a nice paying job and a happy family, his relatives, and friends said that his argument with American foreign policy grew after 9/11, and the mails, which are now in possession of investigators, written to his colleagues and some close pals, also suggest the same.
According to The New York Times, which interviewed many of Shahzad’s friends, relatives and colleagues, Shahzad became more religious around 2006. His friends recalled that by that year he was also turning away from Pakistan of his youth, distancing himself from the liberal, elite world of his father, Bahar ul-Haq, a retired vice marshal in the Pakistani Air Force.
In the recent years, Shahzad’s financial condition weakened to an extent and he reportedly struggled to pay his bill, but it’s unclear whether that played any role in his radicalisation.
Shahzad’s father-in-law, MA Mian, is in complete shock over what he has seen in the past fortnight.
What drove Shahzad to such an extreme, or was it political, religious or personal? Even Mian is seeking answers.
“We all know these things, what the geopolitical problems are. Every day we sit in our living rooms with our friends and we discuss these issues,” the paper quoted Mian, as saying.
“But to go to this extreme, this is unbelievable. He has lovely children. Two really lovely children. As a father I would not be able to afford to lose my children,” he added.
One of graduates of Shahzad’s high school in Karachi, who spoke of conditions of anonymity, pointed out that Shahzad came of age during Pakistan’s state-sponsored jihad against India in Kashmir.
“We used to see the mujahedeens as heroes. When I look back, I think, ‘What was I thinking? What were we all doing?’ But in that era, it made sense. We all wanted to do something,” he said.
“He was always very upset about the fabrication of the WMD stunt to attack Iraq and killing non-combatants such as the sons and grandson of Saddam Hussein,” the newspaper quoted one of Shahzad’s close relatives.