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LocalTimes Square bomb suspect Faisal Shahzad 'was just a normal dude' before making neighbors suspicious

Times Square bomb suspect Faisal Shahzad 'was just a normal dude' before making neighbors suspicious

Originally Published:Tuesday, May 4th 2010, 12:44 PM
Updated: Wednesday, May 5th 2010, 3:39 AM

Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American, is in custody.
CNN
Faisal Shahzad, a Pakistani-American, is in custody.

He had an M.B.A., a wife and two young kids and a passion for Ping-Pong.

On the surface, Faisal Shahzad, 30, appeared to be living a typical American life in suburban Connecticut.

He was handsome and well-dressed. His pretty 28-year-old wife, Huma Mian, adored him.

On a social networking site, she expressed her passions as "fashion, shoes, bags, shopping and of course Faisal."

For most of the dozen or so years the Pakistan-born Shahzad lived in the U.S., he didn't make much of an impression on the teachers, neighbors and others who came into his orbit.

"He was just a normal dude," said George Lamonica, who bought a two-bedroom apartment in Norwalk from Shahzad in 2004. "You wouldn't have looked at him twice."

But, some of Shahzad's neighbors in Bridgeport started growing suspicious. He kept odd hours and seemed nervous, they said.

By that time, he had run into financial woes: banks were foreclosing on his house and he was being sued by an energy company.

"He would be carrying in boxes in the middle of the night," said Dashawn Labelle, who added that he sometimes wore traditional Islamic robes. "He always looked on edge. We knew something weird was going on.

"I thought he might be connected to terrorism - a lot of us did, because he acted strangely. But we didn't call police. We should have called," Labelle said.

Shahzad's reported terror links are now well-known: he was charged yesterday with orchestrating the foiled Times Square car bomb plot.

Prosecutors say Shahzad spent five months in Pakistan and returned to the U.S. in February with the knowledge and desire to carry out a massive attack on American soil.

Investigators were still piecing together how Shahzad transformed from an American-schooled family man into a would-be terror bomber.

Born in Pakistan, Shahzad is the son of a former top Pakistani air force officer and deputy director general of the civil aviation authority. He attended primary school in Saudi Arabia, documents found outside his foreclosed home in Shelton showed.

Poor student

He went on to several schools in Pakistan before scoring a U.S. student visa in the late 1990s.

His first stop in the U.S. was the nation's capital, where he studied marketing at the now-shuttered Southeastern University from 1997 to 1998, according to the documents.

His grades were lackluster. Transcripts show Shahzad received several C's and D's, and even an F in a basic statistics class.

Shahzad transferred to the University of Bridgeport in 1998. On his application, he wrote that he had won several Ping-Pong tournaments and also excelled at squash and tennis.

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