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Faisal Shahzad: violent fanatic, or unhappy homeowner?

An emerging media narrative about Faisal Shahzad portrays him as a quiet homeowner whose once-normal life “unraveled” amid the Great Recession. Much has been made of the fact that his house was in foreclosure, with all the suffering that implies. For its part, The New York Times has reported on his “money woes,” based on second-hand recollections from an unnamed source in Pakistan.

So, was Shahzad, like Riff in West Side Story, depraved on account of being deprived? I don’t buy it. The closer I look at the evidence, including foreclosure documents filed in a Connecticut court, the more it appears that Shahzad was actually in relatively good financial shape compared to many other recession-wracked Americans. I got the foreclosure documents from a confidential source on the condition that I not post them online, but many of the relevant details are here and here.

Let’s start with the mortgage he took out on July 27, 2004. It was not a subprime loan, but a plain-vanilla 30-year deal that called for him to put down $54,600 -- 20 percent of the $273,000 purchase price -- and borrow about $218,400. Assuming a 6.25 percent interest rate (the national average at the time), his monthly payment would have been about $1,345.

There was nothing especially onerous about this: Shahzad was steadily employed in a middle-class job. As recently as Feb. 2009, he was not “underwater” -- as can be deduced from the fact that in this month Wachovia extended Shahzad a $65,000 line of credit secured by the equity in his home. Remember, this was a time when banks were denying credit even to good customers. Shahzad must have been current on his house payments, with a pretty high credit score, or Wachovia would have told him to take a hike.

Two months later, on April 17, 2009, Shahzad became a U.S. citizen -- and within a matter of days he had left his job and stopped paying his mortgage. Note that, unlike so many others in the U.S., he was not fired or downsized in the recession, but voluntarily quit his job and, on June 2, 2009, moved back to Pakistan, where would later begin explosives training.

It was not until three months later, in Sept. 2009, that Chase Home Finance filed for foreclosure in state court. At the time, Shahzad’s unpaid balance was slightly more than $200,000 -- again, the remaining principal amount, which is about $18,000 less than the original loan, suggests that he had been current on his payments until he suddenly and voluntarily stopped them and abandoned the property.

Yes, technically, Shahzad was “facing” foreclosure at the time of his crime, as has been reported. But he consciously brought this on himself and never contested Chase's move to seize the property. Home ownership hardly seems to have been his principal worry as he busied himself with the more pressing tasks of building a car bomb and figuring out how to kill people. He was planning an escape back to Pakistan, where he could rely on his wealthy and prominent family. In fact, the foreclosure looks more like a result of Shahzad’s fanaticism than a cause of it.

When it comes to the relationship between economic distress and terrorism, Shahzad’s case doesn’t prove anything except, perhaps, that some people believe much more deeply in hatred and violence than in the American Dream.

By Charles Lane  | May 6, 2010; 6:00 PM ET
Categories:  Lane  | Tags:  Charles Lane  
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Comments

Charles Lane is absolutely right - Faisal Shahzad could have continued his job and continue making payments just as he had from 2004 to 2009 without any problem whatsoever.

But then his sole agenda atleast from 2000 onwards was to get US citizenship so that he can be one of acceptable travelers and carry out his plan to terrorize US homeland.

US investigators have to take his testimony with a handful of salt because he is definitely going to try protect his allies in Pakistan including Pakistani government officials by claiming to be the ’sole mastermind’ of his plot and even try to connect his plot to Kashmir, a favorite excuse propagated by Pakistani governments as well as private Pakistani citizens of all stripes to divert the world’s attention from their Islamic terrorist agenda.

Witness how Musharraf fooled Bush by pretending to join US fight against terrorism while sheltering Mullah Mohammed Omar’s QST terror network in Baluchistan and Haqqani’s HQN terror network in Waziristan, while milking Uncle Sam in the process.

Posted by: simplesimon33 | May 6, 2010 8:33 PM | Report abuse

Yet another good argument for renting. ;)

Posted by: newsboy3 | May 6, 2010 10:28 PM | Report abuse

The Christmas underwear JIHADIST bomber, I can still say Christmas right? The Times Square JIHADIST bomber both would have achieved their goals except for ONE thing. The BOMBS failed!!!

They both were RADICAL MUSLIMS just like the Fort Hood JIHADIST!!

NOT DOMESTIC TERRORIST!!! Like the media wants them to be!!

Maybe if we did not fight the WAR against RADICAL ISLAM soooo POLITICALLY CORRECT. These JIHADIST would not have had the time to get their training!!

The media are TRAITORS for trying to make this into something other than what it is, JIHAD!!! Not some Unabomber Mentally disturbed person like the MEDIA wants it to be!! Poor,Poor Muslim could not pay is mortage!!!

Both of the recent bombers visited JIHADIST training camps. That is enough right there to turn them over to the MILITARY!!! These are the men and women that are getting shot at and BOMBED everyday by RADICAL ISLAM!!

So what you are saying in the MEDIA is that the only people fighting the WAR against RADICAL ISLAM is the military. The attacks here on our homeland are just your normal Gang type violence!!

The Times Square bomber was an American citizen "TRUE". He also was a RADICAL ISLAM JIHADIST. The media is so about being POLITICALLY CORRECT they forget to be POLITICALLY CORRECT!!

One thing is for sure "The NEXT attack"

TERM LIMITS NOW !!

FAIR TAX NOW !!

DEATH TO JIHADIST !!

NOT LIFE IN PRISON!!

CLOSE THE BORDERS!!

Posted by: 79USMC83 | May 7, 2010 7:05 AM | Report abuse

The MSM continue, in vain to find anything, anything at all that will divert the reason for this terrorism. What's next, he had athletes foot and was denided treatment? They are Islamic fanatic terrorists bent on detruction and death in a holy Jihad against the west and all people not in line with their way of life. As simple as that. This started 1500 years ago and this is simply the latest manifestation. How confusing is it really? God, the Liberals are desperate for a conservative boogeyman. Newsweek first, the WAPO next. A fine day.

Posted by: skscottkeyes | May 7, 2010 8:46 AM | Report abuse

"An emerging media narrative about Faisal Shahzad portrays him as a quiet homeowner whose once-normal life “unraveled” amid the Great Recession."

Thank you for alerting us to this wierd interpretation of events. It's pretty obvious that he just abandoned the house because it didn't matter any more - because he was going to begin his attack.

Very wierd.

Why would they present such a distorted picture? Is there a purpose behind it?

Posted by: ZZim | May 7, 2010 8:53 AM | Report abuse

What is it that the main stream media doesn't get about Islamic terrorists and their mission to destroy America? They need to cue up footage from the morning of Sept. 11, 2001 and invite Obama, Holder and Napolitano to their own private screening.

Posted by: mpwynn | May 7, 2010 9:47 AM | Report abuse

Is there really a need to waste one's time and go through the facts regarding the foreclosure angle? To suggest that this Jihadist was motivated by a home foreclosure is utterly ridiculous and is a product of people who will never admit that we have an enemy (radical Islam) that needs to be faced and dealth with

Posted by: jbb34 | May 7, 2010 9:49 AM | Report abuse

Stop trying to justify massacres of civilians by Muslim terrorists. There is no excuse for it.

Posted by: rajeetishi | May 7, 2010 10:01 AM | Report abuse

So???

Posted by: Mark35 | May 7, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

What difference does it make. He had all of the earmarks of a terrorist and the system missed him. I imagine Nappy was too busy looking at returning veterns to catch this guy.

Posted by: jdonner2 | May 7, 2010 10:59 AM | Report abuse

The loser left is always ready to find an excuse for America's enemies


November, 2010 is national "dump-all-democrats" month

Be sure to help take out the trash!

Posted by: georgedixon | May 7, 2010 11:00 AM | Report abuse

He spent over $30,000 on 14 round trip flights to Pakistan. He bought two cars, explosives, fireworks, fertilizer.

He had more than enough money from some source but HE CHOSE not to pay his mortgage.

I am surprised democrats aren't passing a terrorist mortgage loan forgiveness program. Heck, a Pell Grant to send him to explosives school. Or maybe an outreach for others from Pakistan to learn munitions in the US.

Posted by: Cornell1984 | May 7, 2010 11:21 AM | Report abuse

It is absolutely incredible to see the news stories that attempt to portray Shahzad as a victim. Are most so-called journalists as stupid as Shahzad, or what? I have seen a bunch of stories expressing puzzlement over what could possibly motivate this terrorist into doing such a depraved act. Um, he is an adherent of radical jihad whose ultimate goal is to impose Sharia on the world and kill anyone who doesn't convert. The puzzled airhead reporters can't grasp this concept, so it will remain a mystery to them. Why pay mortgage payments if you plan on committing mass murder and then flee the country? What is so hard about grasping that? The public is very poorly served by stupid, naive reporters who don't think logically and whose bias and political correctness blinds them to reality. Only the MSM doesn't understand why their business model is failing. Why in the world would I pay money for some dingbat's story that does not inform and only proves how silly the reporter is?

Posted by: beachbum09 | May 7, 2010 11:28 AM | Report abuse

When it comes to the relationship between economic distress and terrorism, Shahzad’s case doesn’t prove anything except, perhaps, that some people believe much more deeply in hatred and violence than in the American Dream.

========================================

I guess Mr. Lane has to be diplomatic. I can't believe the MSM is trying to spin this as a disgruntled homeowner and deliberately hide the fact that he's a JIHADIST WHO WANTS TO KILL AMERICANS.

Posted by: bbface21 | May 7, 2010 11:31 AM | Report abuse

oh yeah, this is a victim of the American system -- what nut jobs the left media has become . . . reality is invisible to them in their own jihad against the country and all we stand for . . . those poor terrorists we drove to want to kill us, don't we deserve everything we get?

Posted by: RBCrook | May 7, 2010 12:25 PM | Report abuse

Why are some of the posters so quick to jump on the "liberal media", democrats, etc. because of some perceived bias? The answer is much more simple: the media is just lazy.

Posted by: AlfromAlexandria | May 7, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse

"When it comes to the relationship between economic distress and terrorism, Shahzad’s case doesn’t prove anything except..."

What about the relationship between him and his wife? I understand their relationship was rocky at best - many men (and women) do CRAZY things when they've lost the most meaningful relationship they have.

Posted by: fjamidon | May 7, 2010 1:25 PM | Report abuse

Am I the only who has noticed that he was in the prime gender and age demographic for religious conversion? I have seen plenty of men his age become disillusioned and turn to God. There are many reasons and many triggers, but it is essentially the hopes and dreams of youth crashing into the rocks of reality. Rather than turning to an evangelical church and annoying the hell out of his friends and neighbors with half-baked theology he turned to radical Islam and made a half-baked bomb.

The same thing happened to W with far more disastrous consequences for all of us. I have a friend who was 180 degrees away from becoming an evangelical when he was twenty. Enter his thirties and he has his own ministry. I'm still hoping it's a scam. That, I can respect.

Posted by: caribis | May 7, 2010 2:02 PM | Report abuse

Let's filter through the rants and offer praise for a well-thought out, well written piece. I've been thinking much the same stuff, but haven't organized it as well.

As for why the MSM are missing this, my personal view is that it's about 10 percent trying to be objective, 20 percent political correctness, and about 70 percent laziness and sloth.

The sloth part, we can't do much about. Laziness is a human universal. The rest, well, can we otherwise moderate folks finally acknowledge that there really IS something profoundly different about Islam, at least as it is practiced in recent years? Yes, Christianity has had its share of atrocities, but proudly planned, executed, and justified ones of this nature became at least unfashionable a couple of centuries ago.

Personally, I think all forms of intense monotheistic religious belief are ridiculous. But some really ARE more dangerous than others.

Posted by: gwcross | May 7, 2010 2:19 PM | Report abuse

It's inconceiveable why Faisal Shahzad, who immigrated to this country, got his citizenship, had a good paying job and a good family life; in short, living the American dream, would throw it all away to become a submoronic islamic fundamentalist terrorist. There are nearly 10 million Americans who'd give anything to have it as good as he had it.

Posted by: mhoust | May 7, 2010 2:24 PM | Report abuse

It's inconceiveable why Faisal Shahzad, who immigrated to this country, got his citizenship, had a good paying job and a good family life; in short, living the American dream, would throw it all away to become a submoronic islamic fundamentalist terrorist. There are nearly 10 million Americans who'd give anything to have it as good as he had it.

Posted by: mhoust | May 7, 2010 2:26 PM | Report abuse

Only an idiot(s) such as those at the NYT could postulate such a theory.

The motivation is to continue to deny the war on terror at any cost. Why, because that impacts their entire socialist agenda and indicates a strong defense is necessary. They have been waiting with bated breath for a decade to dismantle the Defense Department and get their hands on those funding streams.

They are desperate to deny there is a world wide Islamist extremist movement to destroy America and the west. They will gladly give away our sovereignty and security to grow their perceived utopian socialism even if they have to resort to Marxism to achieve it.

Make no mistake about it, the survival and future of America rests on our ability to survive both the Islamist Jihadists and the Liberal Jihadists.

If you want you children and grandchildren to be indentured slaves to their hoped for socialist big brother machine, go along to get along. If you're a patriot and want to save the American dream for future generations, we have two universal wars on two universal fronts. Or you can stick your head in the sand and fly the white flag and say can't we all just get along? If I give you my first born will you let the rest of us live and let live? Socialism, the choice of cowards and fools controlled by dictators and thieves.

Posted by: 19481 | May 7, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

Good analysis...but carry it one step further...his goal was to achieve American citizenship so he could carry out a terrorist attack...once he became a citizen, he let go the fraudulent and reverted to his true being of Islamic terrorist. My only question is how many more just like him have been inserted into American society and are waiting for the right time to attack?

Posted by: JCM-51 | May 9, 2010 12:09 PM | Report abuse

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