Faisal Shahzad's Protective 'Normalcy' — An American Wife, Kids, U.S. Passport

I find this ironic.

Much has been made of the fact that this man — who allegedly parked a truck in Times Square and hoped to blow it up — is a U.S. citizen, someone who obtained both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in the United States. His wife is a U.S. citizen and he has two kids — all of whom now live in Pakistan.

He had hit all the middle-class, conventional metrics that typically reassure Americans someone really is an OK guy: marriage, parenthood, home ownership, undergrad and graduate degrees (an MBA, even) from American colleges. And naturalization.

Americans are very big on legal aliens —  those of us who legally work and live here and pay full taxes and follow American laws and customs — becoming citizens. The very word “naturalized’ — no matter how its inherent patriotism quickens the heartbeat for some — is deeply offensive to me. It suggests we “aliens” (love that word, too) are somehow “less than” because we can’t step into a voting booth and won’t be called to jury duty. That’s about it, except for all the goverment jobs (even Census work) and grants and fellowships we are denied access to without citizenship.

But simply acquiring a U.S. passport, clearly, is no guarantee you’ve just handed the keys to the kingdom, as it’s viewed, to the people you really most want as your permanent neighbors.

So much for that.

Writes conservative columnist, Michelle Malkin:

America’s homeland-security amnesia never ceases to amaze. In the aftermath of the botched Times Square terror attack, Pakistani-born bombing suspect Faisal Shahzad’s US citizenship status caused a bit of shock and awe. The Atlantic magazine writer Jeffrey Goldberg’s response was typical: “I am struck by the fact that he is a naturalized American citizen, not a recent or temporary visitor.” Well, wake up and smell the deadly deception.

Shahzad’s path to American citizenship — he reportedly married an American woman, Huma Mian, in 2008 after spending a decade in the country on foreign student and employment visas — is a tried-and-true terror formula. Jihadists have been gaming the sham-marriage racket for years. And immigration-benefit fraud has provided invaluable cover and aid for US-based Islamic plotters, including many planning attacks on New York City. As I’ve reported previously:

* El Sayyid A. Nosair wed Karen Ann Mills Sweeney to avoid deportation for overstaying his visa. He acquired US citizenship, allowing him to remain in the country, and was later convicted for conspiracy in the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that claimed six lives.

* Ali Mohamed became a US citizen after marrying a woman he met on a plane trip from Egypt to New York. He became a top aide to Osama bin Laden and was later convicted for his role in the 1998 US embassy bombings in Africa that killed 12 Americans and more than 200 others.

* Embassy-bombing plotter Khalid Abu al Dahab obtained citizenship after marrying three different American women.

She goes on to name many others.

Now that the state of Arizona is stopping anyone who looks Hispanic to prove their legal right to remain in the U.S., maybe people are looking in all the wrong places.

Shahzad, as the BBC and this Pakistani newspaper have reported, comes from an educated family, his father a retired Air Force officer.

It is comforting, and apparently falsely so, to believe that would-be terrorists are only found barefoot and economically desperate in dusty foreign villages. If the charges prove to be true — and even if this one is not — they may well be sitting next to you at your kids’ soccer match or at the playground or sitting in the same college classroom.

11 thoughts on “Faisal Shahzad's Protective 'Normalcy' — An American Wife, Kids, U.S. Passport

  1. ragnar

    “The very word “naturalized’ — no matter how its inherent patriotism quickens the heartbeat for some — is deeply offensive to me. It suggests we “aliens” (love that word, too) are somehow “less than” because we can’t step into a voting booth and won’t be called to jury duty.”

    Am I missing something? Or did you make a mistake? Naturalized US citizens can and do vote and serve on juries.

    “Now that the state of Arizona is stopping anyone who looks Hispanic to prove their legal right to remain in the U.S., maybe people are looking in all the wrong places.”

    This is a gross mischaracterization of the law.
    1) It won’t even go into force until July, and
    2) The law doesn’t allow stopping people because they look Hispanic. I submit that you haven’t bothered to read the law and are just knee-jerking talking points from some other source.

  2. ebizjoey

    Here is hoping we all keep an open eye. Ragnar, I am glad I am having a great day, so can you. There is all the imagined trouble you can dream here or anywhere, but one probably has to craft the bad dream more here. Where is it better, I want to know.

  3. Caitlin Kelly

    My points:

    1) “naturalized” is an offensive word to me. 2) sorry if that sentence was confusing; I mean that the privileges of citizenship are voting and serving on a jury. After that, I don’t see dozens of daily differences between the life of a *legal* resident alien and someone who assumes American citizenship. I see it as a largely emotional decision, not a practical one.

    Nice try. I don’t “knee jerk” others’ talking points. Many of my closest friends, and my partner, are Hispanic, some living in AZ, so this issue is also offensive to me on many levels. Half of these people — some with Caucasian-pale skin and great jobs and no accent to their English (imagine), some of them with names like Heintzman — don’t even “look” Hispanic. Like that matters,

    I actually have plenty of my own opinions, thanks. I don’t need to lean on others’ and generally, if you read this blog frequently, do not do so.

    1. Ms. Kelly,

      “Naturalized” is a very old technical term. If you were born in the United States then you are a “natural born” citizen. If you were born elsewhere then you need to become “naturalized” citizen, i.e. you become “natural” to the USA. “Natural” originally meant “by birth”, as in “Singing comes naturally to me”. So to be naturalized, is to become as if you were born here.

      It was already an old term when the Naturalization Act 1790 was passed. Before that, naturalization was under the control of the individual states for years prior to that until 1773 when London took control of the process. The word was first used in the immigration sense in 1558.

      So you are viewing the word born centuries ago through modern eyes.

    2. ragnar

      And yet even with your own opinions you’ve still managed to get the law wrong. Have you actually read it and the federal law upon which it is based?

  4. john

    All one has to do is look back on Tim McVeigh to understand that terrorism can be committed by any citizen. At this very moment, I am sure there are members of the tea party contemplating similar acts of violence simply because they do not like our government.

    So for me the irony isn’t so much that there are citizens (naturalized or domestic) that are capable of these sorts of acts, but that we often do not recognize our own capacity for terror. As for the neocons like Michelle Malkin, John McCain, and Joe Lieberman – forget it – they know their truth and that’s the only truth that matters. Accordingly, citizens are protected under the constitution, unless they say otherwise. In an effort to act tough, and cater to their base, McCain in Lieberman both stated that Shahzad, now an American citizen, should not be protected under the constitution – another fine display of their respect for our rule of law.

  5. nelson

    Ms Kelly,

    As a Canadian, why would you expect to be able to vote in the USA?

    By the way, I’ve been reading your columns ever since T/S started up, but it wasn’t until today that I felt the need to comment specifically on something you’d written.

    Fellow Canadian

  6. Caitlin Kelly

    david la, thanks. I appreciate the history lesson.

    nelson, I never said I expected to be able to vote in the U.S. without first — as one must to attain that right — becoming a citizen.

    By the way, did you know I also lost the right to vote in Canadian elections as well? Americans who live outside the country do have that right, but Canadian ex-pats lose it.

    We also lose (not sure if Americans do as well) access to full social security payments without repatriation and paying a whole pile of cash back into the system.

  7. jake brodsky

    What matters here is not Shahzad’s citizenship, but the fact that he got caught up in the cult of radical Islamic Fundamentalism. Just like the followers of Westboro Baptist Church, doing anything their leader Fred Phelps asks, we have a series of global Jihadist cults going on that knows no political or even ethnic boundaries. If the likes of Zach Chesser (the guy who threatened Comedy Central) can get caught up in this, there really are no limits.

    Note that many of the 9/11 hijackers were actually relatively well off, well educated people. Note that many of the people who joined Aum Shinrikyo in Japan were actually well educated people looking for a more religious life.

    Even though our government tries to shy away from saying this, avoiding even the mention of the word Jihad, we are fighting a war against a global cult that believes we are the Great Satan. Until we recognize this fact, and until we deal with it face to face, these idiotic attacks will continue.

    Shahzad’s citizenship is irrelevant. His economic status is irrelevant. The problem is that he’s a foot soldier in a cult with a very large following.

    He should be convicted strictly by the deeds we can prove. That’s more than enough evidence to put him under lock and key for a very long time. I don’t think there is much to be learned or proven by getting inside this man’s head. He is clearly deluded and deranged.

    My only wish is that while he sits in prison, he should realize the gravity of his crimes, and then live to regret them.

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