Fortunately for New Yorkers, Faisal Shahzad’s plan went up in smoke.
It’s been less than a week since Shahzad entered the national scene with his smoking car in Times Square, but there remain unanswered questions, including one no one wants to ask.
Why would he do this? What were his connections to the Pakistani Taliban? And if this had happened two years ago would Dick Cheney view this attempted terrorist attack by a native Pakistani as justification for invading Iran?
There remains plenty of ambiguity in this case, but one of the certainties is that Shahzad did not fit into our government’s tidy box of terrorist classification.
In the midst of a contentious immigration debate taking place in this country, Shahzad fits the positive stereotype the elites like to project on us for why there should be unrestricted immigration.
Shahzad never hurt anybody. He seemed to have gone about the immigration process in the prescribed way and was awarded citizenship 13 months ago. He went to American universities where he did not cause any trouble. He had his Muslim faith but he must have appeared moderate since nobody was startled by it.
He earned a job as a financial consultant for a marketing firm in Connecticut. He bought a house that was foreclosed a year ago, making his loss in the housing collapse the only probable reason that his economic situation would have given him cause to lash out at his adopted country.
But does anyone believe that Faisal Shahzad, a thirty-year-old naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, who earned degrees from American universities in 2000 and 2005, and was a junior financial analyst until one year ago, would have tried to ignite his Nissan Pathfinder were the United States not bombing his native land, an act of undeclared war that was escalated during the past year by President Obama?
All the available evidence in this case points in that direction.
Fighting the terrorists “over there” certainly did not stop Shahzad from trying to fight us over here. The U.S. has been engaged in Afghanistan for nearly nine years and in Iraq for over seven now. He had plenty of opportunity to volunteer for jihad because of those wars while he was enjoying freedom and becoming naturalized. Once drone strikes in Pakistan became more pronounced, this native-born Pakistani decided to take a trip to the old country where, it is assumed at this point, he volunteered himself for the Pakistani Taliban late in 2009.
If this scenario is true, that Shahzad was trying to exact revenge for what was happening to his old country, then wouldn’t extrication from the region remove the incentive for these continual, albeit amateurish bomb plots?
What the U.S. government has to realize is that terrorism is also a home-grown problem. While the Bush administration was trying to hypnotize the country into believing that terrorists are motivated by an inexplicable hatred of freedom, traditionalist conservatives and libertarians pointed out that Americans suffer terrorism over here because we have been over there.
As long as we insist that we have to be “over there,” terrorists will come over here. As Shahzad shows, some of them are already here.
If we see that it is “necessary” to remain “over there,” the price of our presence will be more car bombs like the one set by Faisal Shahzad.
And if some of those are successful, will it occur to anyone in seats of power that fighting them “over there” did not stop them from coming over here?
Editorial note: Wes Messamore of The Humble Libertarian has brought me on as a new regular contributor where this essay also appears. Please feel free to read and comment there as well.