He had an M.B.A., a wife and two young kids and a passion for Ping-Pong.

On the surface, Faisal Shahzad, 30, appeared to be living a typical American life in suburban Connecticut.

He was handsome and well-dressed. His pretty 28-year-old wife, Huma Mian, adored him.

On a social networking site, she expressed her passions as "fashion, shoes, bags, shopping and of course Faisal."

For most of the dozen or so years the Pakistan-born Shahzad lived in the U.S., he didn't make much of an impression on the teachers, neighbors and others who came into his orbit.

"He was just a normal dude," said George Lamonica, who bought a two-bedroom apartment in Norwalk from Shahzad in 2004. "You wouldn't have looked at him twice."

But, some of Shahzad's neighbors in Bridgeport started growing suspicious. He kept odd hours and seemed nervous, they said.

By that time, he had run into financial woes: banks were foreclosing on his house and he was being sued by an energy company.

"He would be carrying in boxes in the middle of the night," said Dashawn Labelle, who added that he sometimes wore traditional Islamic robes. "He always looked on edge. We knew something weird was going on.

"I thought he might be connected to terrorism - a lot of us did, because he acted strangely. But we didn't call police. We should have called," Labelle said.

Shahzad's reported terror links are now well-known: he was charged yesterday with orchestrating the foiled Times Square car bomb plot.

Prosecutors say Shahzad spent five months in Pakistan and returned to the U.S. in February with the knowledge and desire to carry out a massive attack on American soil.

Investigators were still piecing together how Shahzad transformed from an American-schooled family man into a would-be terror bomber.

Born in Pakistan, Shahzad is the son of a former top Pakistani air force officer and deputy director general of the civil aviation authority. He attended primary school in Saudi Arabia, documents found outside his foreclosed home in Shelton showed.

Poor student

He went on to several schools in Pakistan before scoring a U.S. student visa in the late 1990s.

His first stop in the U.S. was the nation's capital, where he studied marketing at the now-shuttered Southeastern University from 1997 to 1998, according to the documents.

His grades were lackluster. Transcripts show Shahzad received several C's and D's, and even an F in a basic statistics class.

Shahzad transferred to the University of Bridgeport in 1998. On his application, he wrote that he had won several Ping-Pong tournaments and also excelled at squash and tennis.

He studied computers at Bridgeport and graduated in 2000 with a degree in computer applications and information systems.

"I remember him as being quiet but very intelligent and diligent," said one professor, who declined to give his name.

Shahzad was granted a H1-B visa for skilled workers in 2001.

Records show he bounced around between a handful of homes in Bridgeport and Norwalk over the next few years.

Time cards show that Shahzad worked for Accountants Inc., a temp agency based in California, and spent much of his time working at Elizabeth Arden in Stamford, Conn. Arden officials refused to comment yesterday.

Shahzad returned to the University of Bridgeport to study business and graduated with an M.B.A. in 2005.

At some point, he started dating Mian, who graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder with a business degree in 2004.

'Friendly' family

She grew up in Aurora, Colo., an enclave for immigrants outside Boulder where she lived with her Pakistan-born parents and her sister and brother.

"The kids were open and friendly. They spoke perfect English," said neighbor Johnny Wright, 60. "She was real friendly."

Mian and Shahzad lived together in a two-story Colonial home they bought in 2004 in leafy Shelton, where they raised their young daughter. A son was born, and Shahzad became a naturalized citizen on April 17, 2009.

Igor Djuric, a broker who showed Shahzad the Shelton home, said he was taken aback when his otherwise reserved client offered an unprompted critique of President Bush. "He told me he didn't like President Bush and his Iraq policy," Djuric said. "I didn't even know him. Maybe it was the first time I met him and he mentioned that to me."

From 2006 to 2009, Shahzad worked for a marketing firm in Norwalk, the Affinion Group, as a junior financial analyst, a spokesman said.

Shahzad and Mian wed in 2008, and Mian didn't hide her love for her husband.

Under a picture of her spouse driving that was posted on the social networking site Orkut, she wrote: "what can I say...he's my everything."

Shahzad was often seen leaving the home early in the morning, dressed in a button-down shirt, tie and slacks.

He told one neighbor, Brenda Thurman, he had a job on Wall Street.

"They were a nice family. They kept to themselves," Thurman, 37, said. "She was more open than him. We would talk about kids.

"He said he worked on Wall Street, nine to five. He left every day in a shirt and tie. Other than that he didn't come out much. He said he didn't like daylight."

Shahzad was in fact struggling financially. He took out a $218,400 mortgage on the home, but he couldn't keep up payments and the house went into foreclosure last fall.

Shahzad also was sued last year by Hoffman Fuel for $793.14, records show.

Shahzad moved to a three-story home in Bridgeport late last year. When he returned to the U.S. in February from his trip abroad, he told customs officials that his wife stayed in Pakistan.

"You could sort of tell he was hiding something," said Lorenzo Patel, 32. "He had family, but it's like he was going places alone and keeping odd hours, not like a father should. That house gave me a bad feeling."

nydailynews.com
Originally Published:Tuesday, May 4th 2010