SHELTON, Conn. - In the years between immigrating to the United States and his arrest on a Dubai-bound airliner at Kennedy Airport on Monday, Faisal Shahzad attained many accessories of a middle-class American life: college degrees; office jobs; credit card debt; and a mortgage.
But this son of a prominent Pakistani military officer also traveled often to his native country - most recently in February - and officials said he was also on a cell phone repeatedly to Pakistan on the day last month he bought the Nissan Pathfinder he later drove laden with a crude bomb into the heart of New York City.
Still a mystery is how the 30-year-old Shahzad balanced his two lives for so long and how and why he gave up his suburban American existence for that of an accused international terrorist.
Now accused of trying to detonate a bomb in Times Square, Shahzad made a far milder impression on some people he encountered in Connecticut over the past few years. Igor Djuric, 35, a Connecticut real estate broker who represented Shahzad in the purchase of his Shelton, Conn., home in 2004, said his client spoke critically of the Iraq War and President George W. Bush.
Shahzad also asked him whether he was a Muslim.
"I said no," Djuric said, "and he said, 'That's OK, everybody is good people.' "
Neighbors in Shelton said Shahzad kept to himself. He lived in the gray two-story house with his wife and two young children - a boy and a girl. A neighbor said his wife's sisters until about a year ago also shared the home.
In Pakistan, Shahzad was raised in a wealthy family and was reportedly the son of Baharul Haq, a retired air vice marshal. He was 19 when he entered the United States in December 1998 with a student visa, according to published reports.
After studying at Southeastern University in Washington, D.C., he transferred to the University of Bridgeport in Connecticut, where he received a bachelor's degree in computer applications and information systems, school officials said.
In 2001 and 2002, he worked an entry-level temp job for Accountants Inc., a California agency. He quit on getting a permanent job, according to Ursula Williams, a senior vice president.
Credit-card receipts from this period, left outside a Shelton home where he lived until last year, show he made regular purchases at Burger King, Walmart, Planet Fitness and other chains while carrying a debt of about $3,000 to $7,100.
Public records show that in 2004 he and his wife, Huma Mian, borrowed $218,000 to buy the 4,800-square-foot home in Shelton, a working-class town with few immigrants about 10 miles from Bridgeport. Shahzad returned to the University of Bridgeport and earned a graduate business degree in 2005.
Until June 2009, he had worked for three years as a junior financial analyst for the Affinion Group, a marketing and consulting business, in Norwalk, Conn., said Jim Hart, a spokesman. Shahzad performed "mundane work, if I can be so bold," said Hart, who added that Shahzad earned "sub six figures" and "left of his own accord."
Shahzad became a naturalized U.S. citizen in April 2009, according to federal officials.
Unknown to police in Connecticut, the couple and their young son and daughter did not leave the house often. Neighbors said they didn't mingle. Adam Abbels, 27, recalled the family had a yard sale last year, selling "basically everything."
Court records show the vinyl-sided, two-story home is in the final stages of foreclosure; a total of $212,870.26 was owed on the property as of April 26. A mortgage branch of Chase bank was poised to become owners at a Monday hearing, according to a Connecticut court official, unless the debt was paid off.
Until last month, Shahzad was a regular at the Fresh Halal Meat International Food butchers, in a strip mall in Bridgeport, where the family moved later. He routinely ordered beef, chicken and goat.
Owners Mohammad El-Mouwfi and Mohammad Abid said Shahzad was among the last people they'd expect to be a terrorist. They recalled a quiet man who wore casual Western clothes. "He'd make the order and he'd go around the store," El-Mouwfi said.
And unlike many customers, they said, he didn't haggle over prices.
With Will Van Sant and Associated Press reports
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. Neighbor: 'Nothing suspicious' about terror suspectBRIDGEPORT, Conn. - The house on Sheridan Street had been renovated within the past year ... Timeline: Faisal Shahzad, from Pakistan to the U.S.December 1998. Faisal Shahzad, son of a former top Pakistani air force officer, comes to ... Brown: Threat once again feels realThe bungling terrorism suspect managed to hit one mark on Saturday. He successfully maneuvered a ...