Faisal Shahzad: 'Nice Guy' Turned Terrorism Suspect A U.S. citizen suspected in the failed car bombing in New York's Times Square seemed to have everything going for him. He had built a nice home for his family near Bridgeport, Conn. A neighbor said Shahzad seemed to be "a nice guy." But by last summer, Shahzad's life had started to turn sour.
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Faisal Shahzad: 'Nice Guy' Turned Terrorism Suspect

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Faisal Shahzad: 'Nice Guy' Turned Terrorism Suspect

Faisal Shahzad: 'Nice Guy' Turned Terrorism Suspect

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STEVE INSKEEP, Host:

It's MORNING EDITION from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.

RENEE MONTAGNE, Host:

The investigation of the accused Times Square bomber now stretches across two continents. Faisal Shahzad was arrested after boarding a plane from New York to Dubai. Investigators say the American citizen admits he received training in how to build a bomb during a previous visit to Pakistan.

INSKEEP: NPR's Robert Smith reports on how a successful immigrant's life changed.

ROBERT SMITH: Something happened to Faisal Shahzad last summer. We don't know what or when exactly, but his world flipped upside down. Before last summer, Shahzad seemed to have everything a newly minted U.S. citizen might want. He had a recently built suburban home in Shelton, Connecticut - a town near Bridgeport - a beautiful wife, two adorable kids, got along with his neighbors, like Fred Busque(ph).

FRED BUSQUE: He was a nice guy as far as I knew.

SMITH: Here's their PR guy, Michael Bush.

MICHAEL USH: We're an international marketing firm who works with some of the largest companies in the world to help become more engaged with their customers.

SMITH: All of that, and U.S. citizenship too, all at the age of 29. But when Shahzad turned 30 last summer, it all began to unravel. Shahzad quit his job. The bank foreclosed on that suburban home. He took the family to Pakistan and abandoned them there. When Shahzad got back from Pakistan a few months ago, his life was completely different. He was now alone. He rented a cheap place in a rundown neighborhood of Bridgeport. His neighbors next door didn't even know he was alive.

LAVON MEWS: We never seen nobody coming out of the house or anything like that. We never seen people coming in either. We really thought it was vacant. We didn't know people was living there.

SMITH: Bruce Hoffman is a professor of security studies at Georgetown University. He says that it's become a pattern in these kind of cases for the suspect to have recently traveled back to their homeland.

BRUCE HOFFMAN: And then either before that trip, during that trip, perhaps upon their return, are suddenly radicalized and become involved in a terrorist plot.

SMITH: Hoffman says that it's also not uncommon for terrorists to leave a trail of debt behind them.

HOFFMAN: Many of these individuals believe it's entirely permissible to, in essence, defraud the Western societies they live in and to use whatever money they have to run up credit card debt, to take out loans that they have no intention of repaying.

SMITH: Unidentified Woman: Be ready for a great journey (Singing in foreign language)

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

SMITH: Other reporters found Shahzad's old passport from Pakistan, discarded greeting cards, and a transcript from college that showed that Shahzad apparently had a 2.78 grade point average. Now that he's in custody, all of that discarded pass is catching up to him. Investigators spent yesterday removing evidence from Shahzad's former life.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG)

SMITH: Robert Smith, NPR News.

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