The suspect in the attempted Times Square bombing appears to have been acting out of anger toward the US that had accumulated over multiple trips to his native Pakistan, culminating in a lengthy recent stay in which he committed to the bombing plot while undergoing training with elements of the Pakistani Taliban, US officials said Thursday.
US officials said Faisal Shahzad’s radicalization was cumulative and largely self-contained — meaning that it did not involve typical catalysts such as direct contact with a radical cleric, a visible conversion to militant Islam or a significant setback in life.
US officials said they are assembling a portrait of Shahzad — based in part on the account he has given interrogators — that may help explain why he attracted scant scrutiny during his transition from student and young father in the Connecticut suburbs to the man accused of parking a vehicle packed with explosives in Times Square.
Shahzad’s transition “was a gradual thing that started years ago,” said a senior US intelligence official with access to interrogation reports from the probe. “It wasn’t suddenly, ‘I found God, and this is the right path.’ There is a combination of religion and anger.”
The official noted that Shahzad had made at least a dozen return trips to Pakistan since arriving in the United States in 1999 and that the CIA’s campaign of Predator strikes and Pakistan’s recent military operations are focused on a part of the country very close to where Shahzad grew up.
Officials stressed that investigators are still struggling to come up with a cohesive account of how Shahzad evolved into a would-be terrorist but that they are increasingly convinced that his accounts to interrogators, in particular his assertion that he was trained by the Pakistani Taliban, are on the mark.
It is still unclear whether the militant group mainly known for strikes inside Pakistan went beyond training Shahzad to conceiving or carrying out the plot.
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