Faisal Shahzad

I guest lectured before a mass media and communications class at Manhattan Community College last night. My official subject was 9/11 Conspiracy Theory, but when I opened the floor to questions, the discussion ranged much wider. The kids had been exposed to a fair amount of conspiracy theory–not just about 9/11, but Lady Gaga, Beyonce, and Jay-Z’s ties to the Illuminati, the unwonted power and influence of Skull & Bones, and more. Many of them had seen the movie Zeitgeist; at least half of them had read or had heard something about Milton William Cooper’s Behold a Pale Horse. One of them told me about the writings of Jordan Maxwell, who I was embarrassed to admit I was completely unfamiliar with. What struck me was how well-developed their critical faculties are. They intuited that most of the writers and film makers that purvey conspiracy theories have a larger agenda than they let on; they were intrigued by the theories but deeply suspicious of them as well.

One of the students asked me what I thought about the attempted Times Square bombing and I had to admit that I was at a loss. The would-be bomber seemed so hapless (he’d purchased the wrong kind of fertilizer and M-88 fireworks that “wouldn’t damage a watermelon,” according to the president of the company that manufactured them; he’d neglected to open the valve on the propane tank and left identifying materials in the car) that I found it hard to believe that he had been rigorously trained in bomb making by the Pakistan Taliban–unless the Pakistan Taliban 1) Is as inept as their recruit seems to be, or 2) For whatever reason (diversionary tactics–perhaps they are trying to distract us from something much bigger on the horizon? maybe they assumed he was a mole?) they wanted him to fail. (TPM has some new speculation on the subject here; the best soundbite comes from ex-ATF agent and explosive expert James Cavanaugh: “I believe he went through some training. [But] I would venture to say, he’s not the valedictorian of the bomb school”).

The media has run in several different directions at once with this story. There’s the hero-making, positive uplift angle–the sharp-eyed T-shirt vendors; the swift-acting police officials who disarmed the bomb, traced it back to its source, and snatched the fleeing perpetrator off an airliner and into custody within 72 hours. That meme lost a lot of its momentum when it came out that, for all his incompetence, he’d very nearly gotten away–he’d eluded the police who were supposed to have him under surveillance; Emirate airlines had taken his cash and neglected to update their No-Fly list, where they would have seen his name (new regulations now require them to run updates more frequently).

And then there was the right wing angle. Desperate to deprive the Obama administration of any credit for the arrest, senators and pundits went on television to deplore Shahzad’s Mirandization–why hadn’t he been tortured? And who made this terrorist into a citizen? Loath to miss an opportunity to demagogue, Senator Lieberman proposed legislation to allow terror suspects to be stripped of their citizenship. Writing in the National Review Online, Mark Steyn drew the thoughtful conclusion that wealthy, cosmopolitan, educated, seemingly westernized Arabs are pretty much all consumed with hatred for us and that we underestimate them at our peril.

He’s not an exception, he’s the rule. The Pantybomber is a wealthy Nigerian who lived in a London flat worth £2 million. Kafeel Ahmed, who died driving a flaming SUV into the concourse of Glasgow Airport, was president of the Islamic Society of Queen’s University, Belfast. Omar Sheikh, the man who beheaded Daniel Pearl, was a graduate of the London School of Economics. Mohammed Atta was a Hamburg University engineering student. Osama bin Laden went to summer school at Oxford. Educated men. Westernized men. Men who could be pulling down big six-figure salaries anywhere on the planet — were it not that their Islamic identity trumps everything else: elite education, high-paying job, Western passport.

The fact that we haven’t deported or arrested all of them, Steyn says, proves that we’ve caved into political correctness. “The Islamization of the West proceeds apace; why draw attention to it and risk a backlash?”

The details that are emerging about Shahzad’s troubled life–a foreclosed house, a stalled career, his adoring wife and children living halfway across the world in war-torn Pakistan–suggests that maybe the personal became the political somewhere along the way. His father is a retired Vice Marshal in the Pakistani Air Force. A cousin of his father told reporters that Shahzad was a patsy, that his arrest was “a conspiracy so the (Americans) can bomb more Pashtuns.”

One of the students told me that what she’s been hearing is that it was all a hoax, planned and executed by the NYPD. “Now that people are worried about terrorism again,” she said, “They’re laying off teachers instead of cops.”

It seems like as good an explanation as any, at this point.

6 thoughts on “Faisal Shahzad

  1. You have to check this out if you are going to look into what Maxwell is about. Admittedly, the impetus comes from a Christian point of view, however the results are wholly effective. Chris White also successfully debunks the shoddy research in Zeitgeist and the myths pertaining to 2012: http://www.youtube.com/profile?user=nowheretorun1984

    Another fellow Christian debunker – but with PhDs in Ancient Near East religions – totally demolishes the quackery of Zecharia Sitchin. See http://www.sitchiniswrong.com/

  2. Killing innocent lives is the most horrendous act of violence that can be committed by any human being. I was completely appalled and devastated to know that someone from my country was the culprit. I live in Pakistan and have seen hundreds of people die recently in the bomb shedding scenes across the country. I have buried innocent children, parents, brothers, sisters and soldiers. Innocent blood spilt on the roads of Islamabad, Lahore, and Peshawar. I still fight for the right to be free and peace. Question that people need to understand is the root cause that creates such devilish minds and insanity. Come to Pakistan and witness first hand that the people are not what you capture in Afghanistan and US. We are peace loving people. When drones attack and kill innocent lives, India involvement and agencies work against your civil veneer and the entire government edifice is run by corrupt and immoral leaders, insane patterns will emerge. Pakistan as a whole condemns such acts of violence. We love peace and promote it. Please do read what occurs in this country to understand the derailing of humanity. To read more, kindly visit http://buildpakistantogether.blogspot.com

  3. I don’t think this was a hoax or that he was a patsy. He fully intended to kill and maim as many fellow Americans as possible, and had his plan worked, would have.

    M-88’s are sort of packaged to resemble the more powerful and illegal M-80’s. The pyrotechnic compound is about the size of an aspirin in an M-88 firecracker, and not explosive. Less than 1.4 G as required by federal law- and btw fireworks are banned in NYC. It could still burn your fingers if not used properly, but he obviously thought there was enough trigger a massive explosion.

    Good that he was wrong. Bad that terrorists know firecrackers don’t work to make bombs.

    As for hiring more police and firing teachers- oh, please! “Homeland” security is so well funded in the Obama budget I don’t think any teacher is in danger of losing their job over this except maybe the teacher that taught this criminal in Pakistan.

    1. I don’t really think the police did it or that Shahzad’s incompetence excuses him. But I do think there’s more to the story than tabloid headlines and talking heads alone could ever tell us.

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