US military officials are expressing increasing certainty that Faisal Shahzad, the accused Times Square bomber, acted as a “lone wolf” in the failed attack, and did not have any formal ties with any militant group.
Centcom Commander General David Petraeus said Shahzad was “inspired” by Pakistani militants but may never have had any direct contact with them. The Tehreek-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has denied any role in the failed attack.
Shahzad has claimed to have received some explosives training on a recent trip to Pakistan, and another Pentagon official said it was possible the training camp was “sponsored in part” by the TTP but that it wasn’t clear how much training he had ever received. The bomb has been described as amateurish and even “clownish” by law enforcement officials.
If Shahzad, a mild-mannered financial analyst from Connecticut, did indeed turn into a “lone wolf” terrorist, albeit not a particularly good one, the difficulty of stopping future attempts, potentially better attempts, rises dramatically. With no grand conspiracy and no real warning signs, the Times Square bombing may be tailor made to fuel paranoia over people without any specific terror ties.