The arrest of American-Pakistani Faisal Shahzad, the chief suspect behind the botched New York’s Times Square bomb attack, has shocked his relatives and people of his home town who believe the event was “another Iraqi WMDs-like decoy” by Washington to shift its presumed lost Afghan war into Pakistan.
The house of Shahzad in Mohib Banda, his ancestral village in Nowsehra district, 140 kilometers (87 miles) from the capital Islamabad, was locked as his only cousin living there left with his family to avoid surging media men. Whereas, his father who retired from the high post of vice air marshal in Pakistan Air Force live in a nearby city with other children.
The Mohib Banda residents, who are chiefly associated with farming or other small jobs, rejected the FBI’s story as ‘false.’ They questioned the rationale behind FBI calling a small quantity of fire crackers, gasoline and propane as “WMD”, which the experts said was insufficient to make a bomb capable of causing devastation in a vast area like Times Square.
“It’s some kind of trap. Why would someone like Faisal who is liberal and contented living in the U.S. try to use un-synthesized fire crackers and chemicals as bomb,” argued Hamid Aslam, a village resident in his late 30s.
Another local resident, Khurshid Anjum, asked why the news media hyped only Shahzad as the accused and never mentioned two white men arrested by FBI along with him in the case.
“The FBI story about their tracking down Faisal through the phone number given by the women from whom he bought the vehicle seems suspicious,” Anjum argued.
“Anyone intending a crime would never give out his original number to such an important witness. Besides, why the woman never showed any suspicion on his alleged refusal to have a receipt or get the vehicle registered in his name which is illegal.”
An elderly retired army officer, who declined to be identified, asked why the FBI and U.S. news media immediately located Shahzad’s alleged links with Pakistani Taliban and why Baitullah Mehsud, about whom the U.S. claimed to have killed in drone attack, suddenly resurfaced to claim the responsibility of the failed bombing.
He also argued why the U.S. news media completely ignored that the failed bombing could be a response to continuous drone attacks on Pakistan and also downplayed the statement of Pakistani foreign minister supporting this idea.
It’s some kind of trap. Why would someone like Faisal who is liberal and contented living in the U.S. try to use un-synthesized fire crackers and chemicals as bomb
The majority of people, interviewed by Al Arabiya, dismissed the U.S. news media reports linking Shahzad with Taliban and al-Qaeda, arguing how could a Western educated man settled happily in U.S. society as citizen could become extremist?
This question was also raised by some sections of U.S. media and aired views of ‘concerned citizens’ who termed the U.S. Muslims specially those of Pakistani origin as “possible walking time bombs.”
This argument was quickly picked up by those opposed to the immigration of Pakistani Muslims in the United States. A veteran journalist Anwar Iqbal talking to Al Arabiya on Phone said that reported links of a naturalized moderate U.S. citizen like Faisal Shahzad with Taliban and some irresponsible comments that ‘Americans of Pakistani origin could not be trusted’ have sent a wave of fear among the American people. Besides, it also raised a lot of concerns and fears among the Pakistani American community, fearing a backlash from White racists and anti-Muslim groups.
Mr. Anwar cited several Pakistani students in U.S. universities who faced hate remarks and booing from their fellows, creating an atmosphere of fear for entire Pakistani community.
The situation forced the mayor of New York, Michael Bloomberg to make an appeal to the people not to hold Pakistani community responsible for the crimes of a handful of extremists.