Accessibility links

Who Is Faisal Shahzad?

  • RFE/RL

Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American who has been charged with terrorism in a U.S. court

Faisal Shahzad, the Pakistani-American who has been charged with terrorism in a U.S. court

Who is Faisal Shahzad?

That's the question the U.S. government is trying to answer about the 30-year-old Pakistani-American who has been charged with driving an explosives-laden car into New York's Times Square on May 1.


Shahzad has been charged in federal court with committing an act of terrorism and attempting to use weapons of mass destruction.


A picture of just who he is -- other than a U.S. citizen of barely one year and now a suspected terrorist -- is beginning to emerge from a variety of sources inside the U.S. and Pakistani governments, and among former U.S. neighbors and family members back in Pakistan.


Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik said initial information shows that Shahzad and his family come from the Pabbi region of northwest Pakistan, but that Shahzad also had a Karachi identity card.


A relative told reporters gathered outside of Shahzad's family home in an upscale section of Peshawar that he is the son of former top official in the country's civil aviation authority.


In the United States, Shahzad studied and worked in the United States on govermment visas before becoming a naturalized citizen.


According to a report in "The Wall Street Journal," he was granted a student visa to the United States in December 1998 after "no derogatory information" turned up about him in federal databases.


In 2000, after attending Southeastern University in Washington, D.C., Shahzad transferred to the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, where he graduated with an undergraduate degree in computer science and engineering.


Two years later, in April 2002, he was granted a skilled-worker visa by the U.S. government. That type of visa is usually reserved for workers with in-demand technical skills, like computer science.


Shahzad later earned a graduate degree in business administration and married an American citizen identified as Huma Asif Mian. He became a naturalized U.S. citizen in April 2009.


According to people in Shelton, Connecticut, where Shahzad lived until last year with his wife and two young children, Shahzad kept to himself. One former neighbor characterized his behavior as "a little bit strange."


Bank records show that his home went into foreclosure after he defaulted on the mortgage.


Shahzad worked for about three years as a junior financial analyst in the Connecticut office of a marketing and consulting business. He left the company in June 2009.


At the time of the failed bomb attack, Shahzad was still living in Connecticut, some 110 kilometers north of New York City.


Investigators are now examining Shahzad's activity during the several months he spent in Pakistan last year. U.S. prosecutors say he has admitted attending a terrorist training camp in Pakistan's lawless tribal region of Waziristan.


He returned to the United States in early February, and according to U.S. Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano, was screened and successfully passed security checks when he reentered the country.

written by Richard Solash with agency reports.

XS
SM
MD
LG