[Guest post by DRJ]
” U.S. and Pakistani investigators are giving increased credence to links between Times Square bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad and the Pakistan Taliban, with one senior Pakistani official saying Mr. Shahzad received instruction from the Islamist group’s suicide-bomb trainer…
Mr. Shahzad received training in explosives in a camp run by Qari Hussain, the official said. Mr. Hussain is a senior commander with Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, the Pakistan Taliban’s formal name, and trains suicide bombers, the official said. Mr. Hussain is also a cousin of Hakimullah Mehsud, the Pakistan Taliban’s chief. The 30-year-old Mr. Shahzad has admitted to investigators that he received training from militants in Waziristan, U.S. officials said…
One thing that puzzles U.S. terrorism experts: the lack of sophistication in the planned attack, considering Mr. Hussain’s reputed expertise and emphasis on suicide bombs. One theory is that Mr. Shahzad may not have been fully embraced or fully trained by the Pakistan Taliban, who may have been suspicious of a U.S. citizen seeking training.
“They may not have shown him all their tricks, but just set him loose. If he pulls off an attack, great, they got a ‘freebie,’ and if not, no harm done,” said Brian Fishman, a terrorism analyst at the New America Foundation in Washington, a think tank that focuses on security issues.”
That makes sense but there is another possibility. Maybe Shahzad was motivated but nervous or inept:
“On Saturday night, with his recently acquired Nissan Pathfinder loaded with his makeshift explosives, Shahzad drove southbound along Manhattan’s East River on FDR Drive to the 49th Street exit, the source said.
Shahzad then pulled over and reached into the Pathfinder’s rear compartment where he attempted to set into motion the process needed to set off the homemade bomb, the source said.
The source, who did not explain how Shahzad had attempted to set off the bomb, said he then took a number of turns and wound up entering Times Square by driving south down Seventh Avenue. The source said Shahzad told investigators he turned right onto 45th Street toward Eighth Avenue because he saw a place to pull over.
It’s unclear why Shahzad left the Pathfinder’s engine running and hazard lights blinking.
But because of an incredible goof, Shahzad couldn’t use his escape car. He had accidentally left the keys to that vehicle in the Pathfinder that he thought was about to blow up, the source said.”
In addition, even though he earned a BA in computer applications, an MBA and had been granted an H1B skilled worker visa, Shahzad reportedly spoke limited English and was unremarkable. His job history consisted of an “entry-level job as a budget analyst at a marketing firm,” a position that presumably would not require engineering or high-tech skills. Thus, even with training, it might have been hard for someone with Shahzad’s skills to carry this out.
MORE: CBS reports Shahzad has been on a watchlist since 1999 because of his foreign travel and for bring a large sum of money into the U.S.:
“Sources tell CBS News that would-be Times Square bomber Faisal Shahzad appeared on a Department of Homeland Security travel lookout list – Traveler Enforcement Compliance System (TECS) – between 1999 and 2008 because he brought approximately $80,000 cash or cash instruments into the United States.
TECS is a major law enforcement computer system that allows its approximately 120,000 users from 20 federal agencies to share information. The database is designed to identify individuals suspected of or involved in violation of federal law.”
So it appears he was already on a watch list even before Monday’s update because of the car bomb. Sheesh. How many people like him are there? And maybe the Obama Administration should reinstate its profiling program for travelers from nations like Pakistan — the air security program it dropped in early April 2010.