OPINION

Ajmal Kasab And Faisal Shahzad - Double Faults

May 07, 2010
Deepti Lamba

Why would an educated man with a good job and a family plant a car bomb in Times Square? The story of Faisal Shahzad is quite similar to the storyline of the film Kurbaan where Khalid, a lecturer at an American university is actually a terrorist who wants to take revenge against the West for carrying out drone attacks in Afghanistan.

While the movie plays out in usual Bollywood style with Saif Ali Khan playing the insidious cold blooded terrorist with panache Faisal Shahzad turned out to be a blundering idiot who left not only the getaway car keys but also his house keys in the car that was planted with the bomb which he returned to retrieve

His call to book a one way airticket from New York to Dubai was his undoing. Unlike the systematic terror operation carried out in Mumbai by Ajmal Kasab and his cohorts this was a shoddy one man operation but the intent was the same- to hurt as many innocents as possible.

While the likes of Ajmal Kasab with criminal mentalities are easily shepherded into terrorist organisations it is the fall of the educated Muslims that has become topic of intense discussions. Friends of Shahzad believe financial woes turned Shahzad Faisal into an extremist:

 But in the last few years, beset by financial troubles, he was a changed man, friends remarked. He even asked once if he could fight in Afghanistan.

"The recession had taken a toll on them, I guess," a friend of Shahzad told NYT.

He said that their money worries became apparent in 2008 or 2009 and that Shahzad "lost his way during the financial problems".

"JP Morgan Chase has since moved to foreclose on the Shelton house, which the couple had abandoned in a hurry, leaving behind clothes and toys," the daily said.

Faiz Ahmad, a friend from Shahzad family's ancestral village, Mohib Banda describes seeing him "completely quiet on the sofa, like someone who has some worries, and undergoing some internal change".

"So he was sitting silent, silent. And silence in itself is a question," he said.

It is not clear when Shahzad became radicalised but one classmate noted the change one year ago.

"His personality had changed — he had become more introverted," he said.

"He had a stronger religious identity, where he felt more strongly and more opinionated about things".

Not every individual who suffered the economic recession and has strong religious beliefs becomes a terrorist. Like Kasab who looked for an easy way out of his impoverished circumstances Shahzad Faisal too found it easy to blame the West for his financial woes and redeemed his flagging self esteem by finding purpose in radical Islam.

It isn't ideology alone that sways the mind but there are other factors as well. For some it could be tragedy of extraordinary proportions that entrenches the need for revenge but for others it could be something as simple as the cowardly inclination to blame others for one's present circumstances.

Whether the individual comes from a rich or poor background becomes a moot point. The basic weakness in character comes forth and rehabilitation of  psychopaths is out of the question.

Kasab will hang for murder and Shahzad Faizal should not see a day out of prison for attempted murder. 

dee.jpgDeepti Lamba is an author, besides editing at Desicritics
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