Pakistanis on Long Island Tuesday expressed embarrassment and outrage that the suspected Times Square bomber hails from their homeland, while some were concerned that his arrest sets back efforts to dissociate the general Pakistani community from acts of violence and terrorism.
Chaudhry said he, his wife and their 2-year-old son were walking through Times Square exactly a week before the failed bombing. He called for the suspect, Faisal Shahzad, to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law. "There should be no mercy [for] putting innocent lives at risk. This is attempted mass murder," he said.
Shahzad, 30, a naturalized U.S. citizen and the son of a former Pakistani air force officer, is accused of planting a green Nissan Pathfinder car bomb filled with gasoline, propane, firecrackers, fertilizer, and other materials in the heart of Times Square on Saturday night. Officials traced the vehicle to Shahzad, who was arrested on Monday night as he was attempting to leave the country on an Emirates Airlines flight from Kennedy Airport to Dubai. Pakistan has since announced that it has arrested as many as eight additional suspects in that country.
Pakistani-born Nayyar Imam of Mount Sinai, head of the Long Island Muslim Alliance, a coalition of mosques in Suffolk County, said Shahzad's arrest had set back efforts after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to make clear to the public that the vast majority of Pakistanis and Muslims reject violence.
"One idiot can bring everything back to where we started," said Imam, a pharmacist. "Islam is totally against this, to kill innocent people."
Ali Mirza, 41, of Elmont, founder and president of the Americans for Pakistani Heritage and owner of an insurance agency, said he felt bad that the suspect is from Pakistan.
"We must acknowledge that we do have some bad characters in our communities, and we have to watch out for them and root them out," Mirza said.
But he said he wasn't worried about a possible backlash against Pakistanis here.
"We are all together in this war against terrorism," Mirza said. "For every one Pakistani-American here involved in such activities, Americans know that there are thousands of [Pakistani] doctors working in hospitals, thousands of cabdrivers making an honest living every day . . . Pakistanis are as American as anybody else."
On Saturday, May 1, an NYPD officer found smoke coming out out a car in Times Square. The area around Seventh Avenue and 45th Street was evacuated, and the bomb squad found propane and other potential explosives in the vehicle. On May 3, Faisal Shahzad was arrested and eventually charged with attempted terrorism.