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Botched New York Car-Bombing:
Mayor Firm Against Backlash

By Abdus Sattar Ghazali

Al-Jazeerah,, May 10, 2010

In the wake of an arrest of a Pakistani American, Faisal Shahzad, as the suspect behind the failed Times Square bombing plot, New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg has assured the Muslim community that any backlash against them will not be tolerated. "We will not tolerate any bias or backlash against Pakistani or Muslim New Yorkers," he said.
Fearing a backlash, major American Muslim organizations hastily held a news conference in Washington DC, on Tuesday, saying that the alleged actions of the Pakistani-American suspect are not representative of the nation's Muslim community. They also urged the fellow citizens not to allow the incident to be exploited to advance growing anti-Islam sentiment. "We urge that our fellow citizens and our nation's leaders reject the inevitable exploitation of this incident by those individuals and groups devoted to demonizing Islam, marginalizing American Muslims and feeding the unfortunately growing Islamophobic sentiment in our society."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Council of Muslim Organizations (CMO) in the Greater Washington, D.C., Area, Muslim American Society (MAS) and Muslim Public Affairs Council (MPAC), in a joint statement said:
"On behalf of the American Muslim community, we condemn the attack in Times Square and thank all those who reported their suspicions, disarmed the bomb or are participating in the current investigation. We welcome the arrest of a suspect and hope that anyone involved in the attack will be apprehended and prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

"American Muslims repudiate all acts of terrorism and will continue to work with local, state and federal law enforcement authorities to keep our nation safe and secure. We ask anyone who has information about this attack to contact local police and the FBI.

"In no way, shape or form does this attack represent American Muslims or what they stand for as a faith community. We must also, as a civil rights group, remind everyone that we are a nation of laws and that in our system of justice, every suspect is innocent until proven guilty.”
Another leading American Muslim organization, the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), while condemning the botched attack said: The attack, described by the alleged sponsors as a sort of "pay-back" or "revenge", is "inexcusable and without any justification in Islam or authentic Muslim tradition. Even the murder of a single innocent person is abhorrent and in direct contradiction to the clear and unequivocal teachings of our faith (Quran Chapter 5,Verse 32), let alone the mass murder of unsuspecting innocent bystanders in a crowded square."
ISNA urged Muslim Americans to stay true to their faith in rejecting any ideas or actions that tolerate or attempt to justify the use of terrorism for any purpose or by any group.
However, Mr. Enver Masud, the founder of the Wisdom Fund think tank and author of The War on Islam, has another take on the reaction of American Muslim civil advocacy groups. He writes:

“Assuming that the alleged perpetrator, Faisal Shahzad, 30 -- who was taken into custody at Kennedy Airport on board an Emirates flight to Dubai -- is guilty, did Muslim "community leaders" stop to ask, "Why"? Apparently not, and neither did the news media, despite nonstop coverage of the event for several days.

“Assuming, for the purpose of argument only, that Shahzad is guilty as charged: Was the pre-emptive war on Iraq to find nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, where well over one million Muslims have been killed by US forces, a factor in why Shahzad made the crude attempt to blow up his rigged van?
“Was the unlawful war on Afghanistan (it was not authorized by the UN Security Council, and to this day the US FBI has not charged Bin Laden with the September 11, 2001 attack on the US), where countless more Muslims have been killed, a factor?
“Was the undeclared, unlawful, but very obvious war on Pakistan, where hundreds of Muslims have been killed by drones and US special forces, a factor?
“Muslim leaders, never missing an opportunity to miss an opportunity, failed to ask the all important, "why," Enver Masud concluded.
The suspect, a 30-year old Pakistan-born US citizen, Faisal Shahzad, appeared in a Federal Court in Manhattan on Tuesday afternoon to face charges on his alleged involvement in the botched car-bombing.
A leading newspaper of Pakistan, Dawn, reported that Shahzad received an F-1 student visa in December 1998. Immigration officials noted then that there was “no derogatory information” on him in any database.
He first attended Southeastern University in Washington, DC, and then transferred in 2000 to the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut, where he received a B.A. in computer science and engineering.
In April, 2002, he was granted an H1-B visa for skilled workers; he stayed in the US for three years on that visa and gained an M.B.A. It is not clear what company sponsored the visa, which is used to attract workers with a “specialty occupation”, such as information technology.
Then on October 20, 2008, he reported his marriage to Huma Asif Mian, an American citizen. He became a naturalized US citizen on April 17, 2009.
Dawn reported a US law-enforcement official as saying that Shahzad has admitted to buying the truck, putting the devices together, putting them in the truck, leaving the truck there and leaving the scene.
The official was also quoted as saying that Shahzad claimed to have acted alone and did admit to all the charges. He reportedly told interrogators that he learned bomb-making at a camp in North Waziristan during a recent five-month trip to Pakistan.

According to media reports, on Saturday night, a Senegalese Muslim immigrant, Aliou Niasse, first noticed the suspicious smoke coming from a vehicle parked at the Times Square. It was later found to be packed with explosives. With the help of another vendor named Lance Orton, Aliou's observation was relayed to local police who moved quickly to defuse the situation. The un-detonated car left a treasure trove of evidence that quickly led the authorities to the suspected plotter being apprehended. 

On Tuesday, Shahzad was charged with "terrorism and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction."  According to the New York Times, Shahzad was interrogated without initially being read his Miranda rights under a public safety exception, and he provided what the FBI called “valuable intelligence and evidence.”

Abdus Sattar Ghazali is the Executive Editor of the online magazine American Muslim Perspective:  E-Mail:




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