An amateur bomber in New York

Published: May 13, 2010
The writer is a standup comedian (

The writer is a standup comedian (

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.

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Reader Comments (64)

  • Nuzhat.
    May 13, 2010 - 1:07AM

    Bravo. Now go hide in your bunker for all the terrorist hate mail you’re going to get.Recommend

  • Amina Agha
    May 13, 2010 - 1:14AM

    I’m disgusted. You thought it wasn’t enough for Pakistanis to bear the mocking criticism of the entire world that now our own people are writing rubbish just to stand out from the crowd.

    Comedian should do comedy and spare our tortured souls who really care about Pakistan’s tarnished image in the world.

    Everybody is just trying to cash in Faisal Shehzads name by any means they can think of. Recommend

  • I.F
    May 13, 2010 - 1:19AM

    Just for you information Mr.Who so ever you are. The TTP has taken him as one of them. And you will get your acknowledgment very soon. try and write another article once that makes its way into the Media. There is a difference between Sarcasm,Irony and ridiculing.Recommend

  • Maestro
    May 13, 2010 - 1:27AM


    Funny. We are the premier dispenser of IT, that is Internaional Terorrism.Recommend

  • May 13, 2010 - 1:38AM

    Assalamoalaikum! I really admire how uve added pun to this Faisal Shahzad scenario! I dont exactly believe this stupid story as is, and was fretting over the foolishness of this failed episode, but your piece here has lightened the situation a bit! Recommend

  • Sualiha
    May 13, 2010 - 1:54AM


  • May 13, 2010 - 2:05AM

    Indeed! I must admit that when Pakistani’s portrayed the bad guys in Iron Man 1 and “the dude” Jeff Bridges muttering some Urdu, filled me with immense pride! Mr. Shahzads amateurish attempt at mass violence is indeed a plot to defame Pakistan!! we will just have to do with being ridiculed by John Stewart instead :( Trust a jew to stick it too us! That too in a humorous manner! Recommend

  • Shahd
    May 13, 2010 - 4:26AM

    GPS coordinates not GPRS coordinates. GPRS is a mobile data service.
    Nitpicking but valid criticism.Recommend

  • Najmul Aleem Sayyed
    May 13, 2010 - 7:49AM

    This is an irony of fact that Pakistan is the only state where private militias are being flourished like Jaish,Lashkar,Sipah etc.How should this be allowed to tarnish state’s image by claiming failed attempts in different regions of the world? All these non state actors be banned and their activities be strictly screened out.Pakistan has unfortunately became a safe heaven for international millitants under the umbrella of these so called islamic organisations.They are being used for distorting the very image of Islam and Pakistan.They have nothing to do with Islam nor they know even about the codes of morality in Islam.They are just strengthening anti Islam and anti Muslim propaganda, let it be Faisal Shahzad or else.Recommend

  • Iman
    May 13, 2010 - 9:00AM

    This is hilarious!! Your articles are excellent every week! The only thing funnier than the articles are the people who don’t get them. Recommend

  • ahsan
    May 13, 2010 - 9:57AM

    Top notch! But apparently, as going by some comments here, we have even lost the ability to laugh at our shortcomings. Recommend

  • ahmed
    May 13, 2010 - 10:02AM

    Well written – funny and incisive. i wonder who would play faisal shehzad in a major motion picture! Recommend

  • Amer
    May 13, 2010 - 10:03AM

    Very enjoyable article thoroughly enjoyed reading it- I just wished that more readers could enjoy satire for satire rather than taking life too seriously.
    Well done & looking forward to moreRecommend

  • shakir
    May 13, 2010 - 10:54AM

    funny for sure but perhaps you should stick to comedy as history sure as hell isn’t your forte. the anarchists had a firm lockdown on terror before anyone else did. then you had the israelis with the stern gang and irgun in what was then palestine. sure the arabs got into the game by the 60’s and 70’s. but right up there were the italians and the germans with variations of september. Recommend

  • Malik
    May 13, 2010 - 11:41AM

    Hilarious social critique as always!Recommend

  • ali
    May 13, 2010 - 11:48AM

    hilarious!!!this piece needs to be required reading all over the world!
    well done SS. :)Recommend

  • GIbran Ashraf
    May 13, 2010 - 11:51AM

    A good one out of Tribune for once!

    Perhaps you could have gone with the official nick name for Shehzad “The Fizzler” would have been better than “bloody” and adds that much more pun to the episode. I honestly agree with you on this one – the Shehzad dude is a disgrace to Pakistani Terrorism industry. He stacks fertilizer that does not blow. Firecrackers that are resistive to burning. Propane tank that is left airtight. no nuts and bolts. and the car is left smoking like a cigarette. Pathetic. Shehzad gets a bombing score of -5 for this one.

    I am sure if he really really got any training from the TTP, he would have atleast made some sort of bang.

    Sami Shah – you blow hot and cold – today you were hot :)Recommend

  • Maheen Iftikhar
    May 13, 2010 - 12:23PM

    I want an t-shirt with Faisal Shahzad’s picture on it and “Puts the error in terrorism” written underneath! Make it happen Tribune!Recommend

  • umair
    May 13, 2010 - 12:23PM

    Brilliant, well written, witty and funny! Recommend

  • Safdar
    May 13, 2010 - 12:34PM

    now thats humor! bravo, a little off on history, and yes its GPS not GPRS unless he wanted Osama to comment on his facebook status. but who cares.

    We can’t afford to be known as the country that put the ‘error’ in ‘terrorism.’Recommend

  • TL
    May 13, 2010 - 12:42PM

    hats off!Recommend

  • saira khan
    May 13, 2010 - 1:03PM

    too good….a good read…its hilarious:)Recommend

  • Rafey Zuberi
    May 13, 2010 - 1:26PM

    This is the finest I have seen you written buddy. This in a funny sort of way captures the spirit of dumbness in this whole game. The false claims, the development of charatcters as terrorists, unfolding the plot, shaping the world opinion and finally giving awards. Great article, by far the best from your side. May be the world was thinking that only the backward northern tribes are terrorist so they must be told that no whole country including educated elite are terrorists. What a movie!Recommend

  • Z. Waseem
    May 13, 2010 - 1:49PM

    Firstly, this is a poorly informed opinion written by someone who has no knowledge of what it takes for one person to resort to terrorism. Terrorists don’t always want a lot of people dead, just a lot of people watching, and that’s probably what Faisal Shehzad wanted to achieve and what the Pakistani Taliban and al Qaeda are probably thanking him for – that a ‘lone wolf’ can resort to such means to address his personal grievances against the west. It’s all political and sends out a huge message, and DOES NOT put the ‘error’ in ‘terrorism’. So please don’t use this word or this incident so lightly. Secondly, terrorism came to the Middle East long after its anarchist and anti-colonialist waves. And you have totally ruled out the tactics employed by the LTTE. Kindly understand why and how it came to Pakistan, and also that bin Laden wasn’t the only man behind it. Some won’t even call him the mastermind behind 9/11. So while the whole world is dead-set against targeting Pakistan’s ‘export’ of terrorists, at least we should write more about the reasons behind it, not write poorly researched satires from the comfort of our homes – in Pakistan. Recommend

  • Mariam Shah
    May 13, 2010 - 2:19PM

    Sam, this is hilarious. I also want a t-shirt that says “Faisal Shehzad puts the ‘error’ in ‘terror’.”

    For everyone else how is having a hissy fit, how do you deal with personal tragedy? Do you cry for years? Or do you eventually learn to laugh? So shut up with your holier than thou crap, and just laugh. It’s not like you’re getting up off your behinds to make any sort of other difference!Recommend

  • Khurram Husain
    May 13, 2010 - 2:26PM

    Great stuff Sami! Packed with priceless puns! May I request a column especially for the “tortured souls who really care about Pakistan’s tarnished image in the world”? You would think the big problem with terrorism is that innocent people lose their lives in it, but I suppose bad PR is a higher priority for some “tortured souls.”Recommend

  • Fasih
    May 13, 2010 - 2:31PM

    Its nice to find a funny side of things but its wiser to pick and chose which issues can be addressed intellectually rather than comically. Not impressed by the stand up comedian at all for his choice of subject matter. He himself didn’t do any justice to many good comedians the country has had.Recommend

  • Bilal
    May 13, 2010 - 2:36PM

    Hahahahahaha! Funny and cleverRecommend

  • May 13, 2010 - 3:10PM

    Hilarious! I just love the ‘putting error in the terror’ punch line.Recommend

  • May 13, 2010 - 3:29PM

    haha, good job. Recommend

  • fareha baluch
    May 13, 2010 - 3:52PM

    Well written and extremely hilarious!! Good to see that there is someone out there who can derive some humour out of this gory taboo that we carry around. I wish readers would enjoy the comic aspect of this artcile and not try to defend themselves unneccessarily. Terrorism has given us much more misery than we can handle..its about time it gave us something else!Recommend

  • mullahomar
    May 13, 2010 - 4:42PM

    haha i love the emo commentsRecommend

  • Sun_boy
    May 13, 2010 - 5:29PM

    Man I can’t believe people are getting all upset about a satire piece. Hilarious dude! Good writing.Recommend

  • someone bored
    May 13, 2010 - 6:10PM

    Wasn’t Faisal Shahzad the drop-out from the Malakand Institute of Terrorism (MIT)? I heard their terrible career services for drop-outs there is responsible for all this chaos in the industry.

    A little knowledge can be a dangerous thing after all!Recommend

  • Pat Thebrat
    May 13, 2010 - 6:50PM

    This is some serious satire! Is it just me or is there a subtext here? You’re right Sami — no self-respecting Pak-trained terrorist would leave the keys….Recommend

  • Reader
    May 13, 2010 - 8:10PM

    Add Cosmos and Brunches in your article and you could have practically replaced Michael Patrick King for the upcoming SATC sequel… ha ha ha!

    It’s deplorable how humor surfaces as a defense mechanism really… but too soon my friend, maybe this article is published ahead of it’s time. It would be funny by the time (heavens forbid) SATC 3 comes out… and you can really get to write some of these menopausal puns.

    Until then, take a page of Wajahat Khan’s book, or a writing course maybe… which might help sensitize you to write what is sensible to write when.Recommend

  • K.A.
    May 13, 2010 - 8:12PM

    Creative ! that’s just the word for it. Creative not in the sense of ‘making up’ a story, but very creative in how you’ve managed to add sarcasm and humor to a very powerful statement though unfortunately it does not help Pakistan’s image in any positive way. Nonetheless your own skill, writing and creative thinking are to be appreciated. Well done!Recommend

  • Ashfaq
    May 13, 2010 - 9:24PM

    I wonder if others wonder or ponder on your writing this article…. I think the intent is more than meets the eye! Not necessarily incorrect but a historically incomplete yet a well writtin segment. And as it seems, if you can multi-task, you can continue doing both, writing and comedy.

    But I do want to add that while true, it is most unfortunate; Pakistanis have to dig themselves out of the grave of terrorism they have dug and protected for long. No pun intended.Recommend

  • Sumera
    May 13, 2010 - 10:36PM

    Seriously hilarious!and morbidly a refreshing take!!this well written satirical piece needs more recognition1 and i am going to make sure every one i know reads this one! Recommend

  • Shibil
    May 13, 2010 - 10:49PM

    Brilliant. And far from what your detractors assert, this is highly positive for Pakistan; it is part of our (sadly infrequent) claim to intellectual courage and, more importantly, a sense of humour. Recommend

  • Human
    May 13, 2010 - 11:05PM

    Good one. I think we need more Pakistani’s like you to make our youth understand the current crisis we are going through due to these misguided idiots. Bravo and good luck.Recommend

  • Haroon Ghauree
    May 13, 2010 - 11:10PM

    Keep it up!Recommend

  • suzanna masih
    May 13, 2010 - 11:10PM

    awesome awesome awesome…… im a fan.
    brilliantly written.. extremely hilarious yet truly true at the same time…..
    it seems that we are putting the error in terrorism!!
    P.S i want the t-shirt too….. :PRecommend

  • May 13, 2010 - 11:34PM

    A well-written piece. But much sarcasm, more so than required, in the name of Pakistan.

    It is correct that we export terrorism thanks much to Saudi-Wahabi nexus. But more than export, our own industry is pretty strong. We like to, all in the name of Islam, kill and maim our own people – and then put all the blame on Satan USA. Satan USA is a good idea but terrorism is our undoing and we need to realize it fast. Recommend

  • Ali Haider
    May 14, 2010 - 12:20AM

    HAHAHAHAHAHA too good!!! Recommend

  • Iraj
    May 14, 2010 - 12:20AM

    Hilarious! Satire and comedy is still alive in Pakistan! I used to watch your show on Dawn and am glad the ET team picked up where dawn so stupidly left off!Recommend

  • Ashiq
    May 14, 2010 - 9:16AM

    As a New Yorker, I have to say this is the most brilliant satire on this whole geopolitical farce that I’ve read. Excellent! Recommend

  • Muz
    May 14, 2010 - 9:49AM

    Sami, are you equally disappointed by the failed attempt of Dr. Afia on brave (and smart indeed) US marines?

    Interestingly, our ratings for the Terrorism Award have been improving, no matter our attempts are successfull or otherwise, thanks to the relentless efforts of both the “Jihadi Mullahs” and the “Liberal Mullahs” of your like. And both Mullahs, out of reason and logic, are enjoying their lives with a mission to follow.

    It is the common Pakistani who is not only suffering but bewildered also, and no surprise that some of them think of becoming Faisal Shahzad, only to add rejoice to the camps of “Jihadi Mullahs” and to fuel the debate in the drawing rooms of “Liberal Mullahs”…Recommend

  • Sobia
    May 14, 2010 - 2:37PM

    HILARIOUS!! People, stop getting your knickers in a twist – the guy’s telling it like it is!Recommend

  • Shahed
    May 14, 2010 - 3:15PM

    Beautifully crafted satire. Good on you Sami. For those who seem to be taking such offence to the piece I say: please learn to laugh at yourself (it helps – especially when others are laughing at you anyway). Before you start blaming mullahs of one type or the other for our mess – remember that it is us – the educated urbanites – that are the true cause of the mess. We have misplaced loyalties and sympathies compounded by our wierd sense of guilt for not being “perfect” muslims ourselves – while we know full well we don’t wish to be. We feed on self-pity and so love to complain about all that is “West” while we will always cling to it for life. We also know not to rock the boat with any real social reform that could see us lose out when we know that eventually, the social system in place will systematically favour us – for simply being the previleged class shouldered by the poor uneducated masses. With so many contradictions we will never push for reforms, despite our education and influence. Instead, directly or indirectly, we will allow the errorists and terrorists to take hold of our destiny. So let’s enjoy the ride at least!Recommend

  • BushraS
    May 14, 2010 - 3:28PM

    Finally a worth-reading piece by ET. Very well done! Recommend

  • I.S.
    May 14, 2010 - 4:29PM

    Written in truly poor taste. News paper articles should not be treated the same as material for a stand up show.Recommend

  • Arsalan Khan
    May 14, 2010 - 9:58PM

    miss Amina Agha said it the best in the upper comments which went like….
    “I’m disgusted. You thought it wasn’t enough for Pakistanis to bear the mocking criticism of the entire world that now our own people are writing rubbish just to stand out from the crowd.

    Comedian should do comedy and spare our tortured souls who really care about Pakistan’s tarnished image in the world.

    Everybody is just trying to cash in Faisal Shehzads name by any means they can think of.”Recommend

  • Asad
    May 14, 2010 - 10:49PM

    “a disregard for civilians that would make American Presidents envious” thats just classic….Recommend

  • May 15, 2010 - 3:50AM

    More westerners should read this – though I doubt most would understand some of the sub-texts, and many over here (US) would rile at Asad’s last comment — which I agree with.

    Humor is one of the best weapons for combating the lunatic misinformation that goes on here, and doubtless there too. I’m certain it won’t be enough, but it’s a contribution.

    Thank you.Recommend

  • zohaib
    May 15, 2010 - 4:51PM

    its GPS not GPRSRecommend

  • Hatim Saeed
    May 16, 2010 - 6:26PM


  • rosysblue
    May 17, 2010 - 3:02PM

    not in good tasteRecommend

  • Sana
    May 17, 2010 - 5:02PM

    Dear Sami,

    For someone who is so eloquent and aesthetically inclined in a satirical manner; its a pity that you are unfamiliar with large phases of history. Were you so absorbed in crafting out ‘puns’ from the Shahzad incident that you ‘forgot’ where terrorism began and more importantly WHY? I do not mind the satire or dark humor, but thats when it leaves the reader with a message or some food for thought. Unfortunately, your piece does neither. Because if you really do want to delve into this matter, the funniest and the most Ironic part seems to be missing; that is, how is it possible for someone who is apparently an engineer, well educated, well-bred to create such obvious mistakes? Was it just amateurish (even a sixteen year old wont make such drastic blunders) or was it meant to be exactly like this?
    You’re a writer and many people read what you produce and deliver. It has a lot of impact thus you have a huge responsibility. Either take take that up seriously, to provide your readers with as impartial and objective material as you can, else go back to your stand up acts. This clearly isn’t your cup of tea.Recommend

  • Ammara Khan
    May 17, 2010 - 9:42PM

    Glad to see some serious piece of satire in this country! The people who fail to appreciate the beauty of this article should try to go for the deep meaning. Laughter is an effective way of change!Recommend

  • Maliha Hasan
    May 19, 2010 - 9:27AM

    Oh Sami, why do people hate you so? I thought this was well-written and truly a good mixture of ‘Sarcasm,Irony and ridiculing’ (ref to one of the earlier commentators). Maybe we could use your GPRS to track him/her down. Recommend

  • Tariq
    May 19, 2010 - 6:28PM

    Good read. I liked it for what it was a lighter view on things.
    To all commentators that didn’t like this piece, for a number of reasons, i say:

    This article is not teaching you history,
    This article is an opinion piece, which means the writer can write his own opinion,
    This article shouldn’t be taken seriously.

    Learn to laugh people.Recommend

  • Faizan Cheema
    May 21, 2010 - 9:47PM

    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.Recommend

  • shumaila
    Aug 5, 2010 - 5:24PM

    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. “Recommend

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