An amateur bomber in New York


Sami Shah May 12, 2010

I am seriously upset with Faisal Shahzad. His amateurish attempts at terrorism are ruining Pakistan’s image. It wasn’t easy building a reputation as the top exporter of worldclass terrorists. The Middle East had that market cornered for most of the latter half of the last century (with the Venezuelans making a respectable bid for the title in the 70s with Carlos the Jackal). For a very long time, it seemed like the Arabs were the Apple computers of terrorism. They exported both quantity and quality.

When James Cameron finally recognised their efforts by casting generic Arabs as trouble-makers in True Lies, the rest of the world thought the game was over. The gold medal had gone to the Middle East. Then, like Usain Bolt breaking his own record, the Arab world produced Osama Bin Laden. He became an overnight sensation. Soon teens with terrorist aspirations had his posters up on their walls and his audio and video releases topped the charts. The sinister Saudi combined charisma with wealth, CIA training with Afghan tenacity. He turned the whole terrorism industry upside down, transforming it from a bloated bureaucracy rife with nepotism into a 21st century open source meritocracy.

That’s when we Pakistani’s made a legitimate grab for top slot. Aimal Kansi had made a good first impression on the judging committee, combining ingenuity and initiative as far back as 1993. Unfortunately for him, there was no follow up act.

Not this time though. Our terrorists worked hard. They took their jobs seriously and never complained. Long hours, terrible working conditions, constant travel, drone attacks and a Pakistani government that treated them with all the consistency of a schizophrenic with multiple personality disorder. Yet they persevered. Now, in 2010, we could finally say we were the envy of terrorists everywhere. With training institutes that churn out graduates who always make their instructors explode with pride, Celebrity terrorists who can return from the dead and a disregard for civilians that would make American Presidents envious, we had finally arrived. In 2010, if you wanted to be respected as a terrorist, you had better be from Pakistan. Just look at the number of international students our terrorist training institutes receive. Their admissions department must be flooded with applications. Whole teams of frustrated senior suicide-bombers spending hours pouring over personal statements. The Pakistani textile industry may be declining in terms of exports, our IT services may be crippled because of PayPal’s refusal to acknowledge our existence, but dammit, we did terrorism right!

That is, until Faisal bloody Shahzad. You have to be a truly terrible terrorist when the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan refuses to acknowledge you. This is an organisation that is on the verge of claiming responsibility for the Hindenberg disaster and the Apollo 13 problems. They have, of course, since backtracked and claimed to have trained Faisal but even they don’t sound like they believe themselves. It’s more a case of trying to buy some brand presence on a new celebrity. Faisal, for his part, could not have done more damage to the terrorism industry if he visited Mullah Omar, Hakeemullah Mehsud and Osama bin Laden while wearing a tracking device that was pinging his GPRS coordinates to a drone flying directly overhead. His claims of having attended bomb-making classes in South Waziristan are blatantly a case of lying on one’s resume. It’s safe to say, the first lesson taught on the first day of classes in North Waziristan, the Harvard of bomb-making, is “Don’t lock the keys to your getaway car inside the car that’s supposed to blow up.”

Too many people blew themselves up in too many creative ways for this buffoon to so callously ruin it all. We can’t afford to be known as the country that put the ‘error’ in ‘terrorism.’

Published in the Express Tribune, May 13th, 2010.

COMMENTS (64)

shumaila | 11 years ago | Reply Amazing article! rather articles I should say! for all those who are critical about Sami Shah's sarcasm on Faisal Shahzad, I feel this article in a subtle way is actually pointing out that Faisal Shahzad was actually made a victim to tarnish Pakistan's image rather then actually representing Pakistan. "His claims of having attended bomb-making classes in South Waziristan are blatantly a case of lying on one’s resume. It’s safe to say, the first lesson taught on the first day of classes in North Waziristan, the Harvard of bomb-making, is “Don’t lock the keys to your getaway car inside the car that’s supposed to blow up.”" I feel its a good critique of the western world using "Stereotypes" of terrorism and going so far as to plot a few to support their views."if you wanted to be respected as a terrorist, you had better be from Pakistan" or when he says "This is an organisation that is on the verge of claiming responsibility for the Hindenberg disaster and the Apollo 13 problems. "
Faizan Cheema | 11 years ago | Reply Dear Sami shah! Well i would have a very different view to this situation...Using my freedom of speech, i believe it to be all staged scenario. America landed in Iraq over WMDs issues (Weapons of Mass destruction) and once it occupied Iraq, you never heard of WMDs ever since. Similarly 9/11, Osama Osama Osama, get a hand over Osama. Americans landed in Pakistan, and it is pretty funny to realize that, no body has ever talked about any threats from the same guy Osama bin laden, who single handedly was once supposed to be the biggest threat to the world. But we have a few new characters twisting the story i.e. Bait Ullah Mehsud, Hakeem Ullah Mehsud etc. US had to carry through the air of this region, for long. Just imagine the entire belt from Pakistan to Kuwait (Pakistan-Iran-Iraq-Kuwait) the only country left to occupy is Iran and we all know the rough sledding being shown to Iran. Anyhow now this guy Faisal Shehzad. (Another flea in our ear) The neighborhood never had any complaints, the teachers never smelt any radicalism/extremism and all of a sudden he gets involved into world level terrorism. I fail to understand it, either he is a spy himself or has been set up. Since Pakistani media, oppositions and people have been shouting on the US to get the hell out of here, I always had this gut feel for these table turnings. Whenever and wherever a strong sense of guilt happens, I find myself jumping off the crown yelling, it’s me! It’s me! Pakistan’s government is the government of its own kind accepting convictions even before accusations. All I know that… Stop asking U.S to get the hell out of this region, or get ready to read about many more Faisal shehzads.
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