The Story of Faisal Shahzad Begins to Emerge

By JOHN CHRISTOFFERSEN, PETE YOST, and LeAnne Gendreau
|  Wednesday, May 5, 2010  |  Updated 8:50 AM EDT
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Times Square Bomb Scare

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Faisal Shahzad's name is seen on a mailbox outside of the home where he lived May 4, 2010 in Bridgeport, Connecticut. Shahzad, a suspect in this past weekends failed bomb plot in Times Square was taken into custody late Monday by FBI agents and New York Police Department detectives while trying to leave the country. (Photo by Daniel Barry/Getty Images)

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Faisal Shahzad -- the man who allegedly botched a Times Square car bombing -- seemed friendly enough, according to his Connecticut neighbors, and by most accounts led a normal life in America.

A graduate of the University of Bridgeport, Shahzad had previously worked as a financial analyst and, like many Americans, owned a home in foreclosure.

The 30-year-old became a naturalized U.S. citizen last year after residing in the country for at least 11 years, lived in Bridgeport, and traveled frequently to his native  Pakistan.

Shahzad earned a BS degree in Computer Applications and Information Systems from the University of Bridgeport in the fall of 2000, returned to UB and graduated with an MBA in the summer of 2005, Michael Spitzer, the University of Bridgeport's provost and vice president for academic affairs, said.

In June 2006, Shahzad began working for Affinion Group in Norwalk, where he analyzed financial reports, company officials said.

He was never promoted while he was there and left on his own in June 2009, company officials said. Company officials said they knew of no problems or complaints with human resources. 

He defaulted on a $200,000 mortgage on his Shelton home and the property is now in foreclosure, court records show. Chase Home Finance LLC sued Shahzad in September.

The real estate broker who sold him the home says the bombing suspect told him years ago he disliked President George W. Bush and the Iraq war.

The broker, Igor Djuric, said he could not remember the exact words but said Shahzad made clear he didn't like Bush or his policy in Iraq. He says the comments were not hateful, but he was surprised to hear them because they hardly knew each other. Djuric says Shahzad also asked him if he was Muslim.

On Tuesday morning, authorities were at the two-story grayish-brown Colonial, which looked as if it had been unoccupied for a while, with grass growing in the driveway and bags of garbage lying about.

The foreclosure records show Shahzad took out the mortgage on the property in 2004, and he co-owned the home with a woman named Huma Mian. The foreclosure case is pending in Milford Superior Court.

The Associated Press left a message on Tuesday with an attorney for Chase's law firm. The records show Shahzad and Mian didn't have lawyers for the case.

In Shelton, neighbors spent the day talking about Shahzad's arrest. Neighbors offered diverging descriptions of Shahzad but agreed that he kept to himself.

"He looked like a friendly individual. You would never know he's one of those bad guys," Edwin Nadina, who lives near Shahzad's home, said.

Shelton resident Brenda Thurman said Shahzad had told her husband he worked on Wall Street, while another neighbor, Thurman, 37, said he lived in Shelton with his wife and two small children until last year.

"He was a little bit strange," she said. "He didn't like to come out during the day."

Audrey Sokol lives next door to Shahzad's home and described him as a "nice guy." He lived in the neighborhood for about three years with his wife and two children.

"I thought he went back to Pakistan. He said that he wanted to go back to Pakistan because he had family there and it was in their culture that the youngest child would take care of the parents,"  Sokol said. "I'm just very surprised that it's so close to home and that he would do anything like that."

Feds say Shahzad did go back to Pakistan -- but not to be with his family. He allegedly received bomb training in the lawless Waziristan region, which he tried to put to deadly use in Times Square over the weekend.

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