Texas gunman had happy childhood in Pakistan but struggled in US

Published: May 5, 2015


TEXAS: Nadir Soofi, a gunman shot dead after opening fire at a Texas exhibit of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad (pbuh), was a popular schoolboy in Pakistan but struggled to adjust to the United States after moving there as a teen, friends said on Tuesday.

Soofi’s story appeared to trace a familiar arc for some Western extremists – disappointment, alienation, and a search for belonging that ended with the embrace of militancy.

That is what police say inspired Soofi and his roommate, Elton Simpson, to attack the exhibit and contest to draw Prophet Mohammad (pbuh) cartoons on Sunday.

Read: Gunman in Texas cartoon attack attended high school in Pakistan: report

Such depictions are offensive to Muslims and often spark violence. Event organizers said the event was defending free speech.

The two gunmen were shot dead by a police officer before they could kill anyone.

Friends in Pakistan, who studied with Soofi at the elite International School of Islamabad, were stunned to discover that police had identified him as was one of the attackers.

“When he was in Islamabad, he had a great life. His mom was an American who taught art at the school, he was in plays, popular with girls,” said one of Soofi’s best friends at school.

Read: IS claims Texas attack via official radio station

“His nickname was Goofy” because of his sense of humor, said the man, who declined to be identified to preserve his privacy.

Members of the FBI Evidence Response Team investigate the crime scene outside of the Curtis Culwell Center after a shooting occurred the day before, on May 04, 2015 in Garland, Texas.

Another classmate said Soofi played the lead in the school’s production of the play “Bye Bye Birdie”.

“He was a popular kid, the opposite of a radical extremist,” she said.

Soofi’s parents divorced around the time he was in tenth grade, the friend said, and he moved to Utah with his mother.

Over the years, Soofi told his old friends he did not fit in and had many disappointments.

He went to dental school, but said he had to drop out because of financial problems, the male friend said.

Read: Two dead, one wounded at Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) cartoon contest in US

He tried and failed at various ventures including a dry cleaning store, he said.

He told friends he had a child with a Bosnian woman but the relationship did not work out.

“He said ‘life is really tough here’,” the male friend said. “Alienation, an identity crisis, whatever you want to call it, he was kind of alone.”

“I guess the one thing he could identify with was religion.”

In the past few years, Soofi grew a beard and only posted pictures of himself wearing sunglasses on Facebook, the friend said. Old friends teased him for that but also began to worry, the friend said.

Gradually they lost contact.

“I looked at his pictures, and I didn’t recognize him,” the friend said. “I don’t know what happened to him in America.”

Facebook Conversations

Reader Comments (15)

  • woody
    May 5, 2015 - 9:37PM

    Broken family and unhappy childhood is poor excuse for attempted slaughter. If your unhappy in the USA you can always return to Pakistan – one way ticket doesn’t cost that much.Recommend

  • May 5, 2015 - 11:11PM

    Drop outs, broken family members, unfit for jobs, failures, sadists, pessimists final destination is jihad.Recommend

  • Observer
    May 5, 2015 - 11:25PM

    So, the villain of the piece is the American society. Recommend

  • Kam
    May 5, 2015 - 11:52PM

    Whatever he did cannot be endorsed. But what about the people who organized the cartoon event? Was their message was so important that they were willing to put lives at risk? I think either they were immensely negligent or equally sadistic. Freedom of speech is not important than human lives they should have thought about it before doing an act which has already killed many and spread chaos, divisions and unrest among cultures and civilisazions.Recommend

  • G. Din
    May 6, 2015 - 12:04AM

    Every Muslim thinks it is his birthright and entitlement to be happy. The fact that he is a misfit and therefore unhappy points to non-Muslims who are conspiring to keep him unhappy. No society -or a human being – likes a parasite! There is no attempt to fit in and at assimilating.Recommend

  • Puppet on a chain
    May 6, 2015 - 12:31AM

    A profile of a psychologically disturbed person. Most of the extremists share the same kind of profile, wonder why?Recommend

  • Hmm
    May 6, 2015 - 12:56AM

    All are terrorists.Recommend

  • Shah
    May 6, 2015 - 1:12AM

    So, the end of the story is another Pakistani Man trying to commit something horrendous! STOP for any sake! Recommend

  • Azi
    May 6, 2015 - 1:47AM

    And there are countless people wishing for American citizenship to contribute to the society and life in a positive way. Why is always the crack heads/ mentally unstable people that get it?Recommend

  • ajeet
    May 6, 2015 - 2:50AM

    Muslims can’t adjust anywhere.Recommend

  • kanishka
    May 6, 2015 - 3:59AM

    Dawood Gilani aka David Headley (engaged by LeT to do survey of Mumbai for terror attack) and Nadir Soofi both had one parent Muslim and other American. Both were brought up in Islamic Republic of Pakistan during teenage and moved to their mothers in USA, failed to achieve anything positive in their lives and then adopting the path of Islamic terrorism. Recommend

  • Puppet
    May 6, 2015 - 5:18AM

    @G. Din: stereotyping is a bad habit. Looks like you have never seen happy Muslims. Wonder what kind of a company you keep?Recommend

  • lkhan
    May 6, 2015 - 10:37AM

    @kanishka: what are you trying to prove? How many mixed married children from similar families in the USA and elsewhere are doing perfectly well, both as members of civil society as employment? Such examples as yours tend to be the exceptions… Recommend

  • Feroz
    May 6, 2015 - 11:43AM

    Allah will protect him in jail from devious influences. Recommend

  • Fijita
    May 6, 2015 - 9:31PM

    Stereotyping, which shows what kind of a person are you.Recommend

More in World