Neighbors along Long Hill Avenue in Shelton, where Shahzad bought the house in July 2004, said he and his wife, Huma Mian, who had two children, kept mostly to themselves. They said that Shahzad often left in the mornings wearing a suit and tie, and that Mian often walked their baby down the street.
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"I thought: 'OK, they're not into it,'" said Donna Achille, who lives across the street. "It's just odd. I cannot believe how well they blended in."
On Tuesday, Shahzad, 30, was charged with terrorism and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction on American soil.
The man that neighbors said they'd occasionally see jogging at night wearing black has admitted to authorities that he received bomb-making training in Pakistan, his homeland. He also has admitted trying to put that training to use in New York City on Saturday night, filling a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder he had bought on craigslist with fireworks, propane tanks and cans of gasoline and trying to set off an explosion in Times Square.
While Shahzad was being questioned by investigators, law enforcement officials from the FBI and from the Bridgeport and New York City police departments combed through an apartment on Sheridan Street in Bridgeport that is believed to be his last U.S. address. Forensic investigators removed a box of fireworks and two bags of fertilizer found in the garage.
A law enforcement source said that Shahzad was armed during the period between the aborted bombing attempt in Times Square and his arrest Monday, shortly before midnight, at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, where he was apprehended aboard a flight that was about to take off for Dubai. The Los Angeles Times, citing an FBI source, reported that Shahzad left two handguns in the car he drove to the airport.
Shahzad, who became a U.S. citizen in April 2009, was never in trouble with the law -- not even a speeding ticket. The U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Service, citing Shahzad's privacy rights as a U.S citizen, would not disclose records associated with his naturalization application.
He received his bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Bridgeport, finishing his MBA in 2005. He had transferred to Bridgeport from Southeastern University in Washington, D.C.
University of Bridgeport Provost Michael Spitzer said school officials have notified federal authorities of Shahzad's attendance.
"The university abhors acts of violence and terrorism," Spitzer said in a statement. "We work to combat racial and ethnic prejudices and animosity, and believe that education in an international context is the key to understanding the values and beliefs of people from other cultures."
Shahzad took a job in June 2006 crunching internal financial numbers for Affinion Group in Norwalk, a $1.5-billion-a-year global marketing company.
"He was very entry-level," said James Hart, a company spokesman. "He was in our financial organization, which does what any financial organization does -- it takes a look at the business results. It analyzes them with respect to what the budget was, what the forecast was."
Hart said that Shahzad worked with raw data and did not interact with clients or see personal or proprietary information. Shahzad left the company voluntarily in June 2009 -- about the same time he stopped making payments on his mortgage.
Hart said that Affinion, which has since moved its main offices to Stamford, was not the sponsoring company for Shahzad's work visa.
"We just did the verification that he had all the proper documentation -- a permanent resident card and that he was authorized to work here," Hart said. "But he came to us with that already. So there's got to be somebody else out there who had employed him who had provided that."
Hart said there was nothing extraordinary about Shahzad's three years with the firm.
"He was working on kind of the nuts and bolts, the tactical stuff. Unglamorous, I would go so far as to say," Hart said. "So he was just coming in and doing his job and leaving."
'Below The Radar'
In 2000, public records show, Shahzad was living at an address in Bridgeport. His Social Security number indicates that it was issued in Connecticut between 1998 and 2001, when Shahzad would have been in his late teens or early 20s.
He bought the three-bedroom house at 119 Long Hill Ave. in Shelton in July 2004 from J&D Country Builders for $273,000, paying more than $50,000 in cash and financing the rest with a mortgage from Chase Manhattan bank, records show. Three years later, he granted an interest in the property to Mian.
Achille, the neighbor, said she never knew the couple very well. But she had no reason to be suspicious, she said; they seemed like any family from a foreign country trying to make a new life in America.
"They were just really below the radar," she said.
The wife wore traditional clothes from the Middle East that covered much of her body, but not her face, Achille said. She would walk a baby girl up and down the street, she said.
The man wore American clothes and came and went like any working dad, she said.
Next-door neighbor Brenda Thurman said that her 10-year-old daughter Asia would play with Shahzad's 4-year-old daughter, and that she was friendly with the family. Thurman said the couple also had a son, born in Pakistan in 2008.
When Thurman and Shahzad's daughter played, she didn't say much to Shahzad's wife. Mian indicated that she didn't speak English and the two would communicate by hand signals or through Shahzad. After Shahzad left, about a month before the family disappeared last July, Thurman said she learned that Shahzad's wife spoke English well.
After Shahzad left early last summer, Mian began to sell off the family's possessions. She sold items through craigslist, Thurman said, and held two tag sales.
About that time, Mian gave Thurman's daughter a box full of bracelets that she said had come from their native Pakistan. Asia wore the bracelets and liked them, but Thurman said she is troubled by their source.
"She won't wear them anymore," Thurman said. "I won't let her." In the backyard of Shahzad's house Tuesday afternoon, rain-soaked bills and personal records were strewn about, and yard equipment stood unused.
Neighbors said the family hasn't lived in the Shelton house for months, even though they still are the owners of record.
Chase filed a foreclosure suit on Sept. 13, 2009, after Shahzad missed four mortgage payments dating to June 2009. The suit said that Shahzad owed just over $200,000. With late charges and interest, the bank said last week that Shahzad owed a total of more than $212,000
Shahzad was trying to sell the house himself, listing it on House Boom, a website on which people can list their homes for free. The ad lists the house at $299,000 and says the price has been reduced. It gives the reason for selling as "moving to another state."
Neither Shahzad nor Mian responded to the foreclosure lawsuit.
In January 2009, Shahzad took out a $65,000 second mortgage with Wachovia Bank. The status of that mortgage is unknown, but Wachovia has no actions against Shahzad in state court and did not file an appearance in the Chase foreclosure.
The foreclosure case is pending at Superior Court in Milford. There are no records showing the family ever moved to Missouri. Authorities have said that Shahzad returned to Pakistan in July 2009 and came back to the United States three weeks later.
Shahzad's last trip to Pakistan was in February 2010. When he returned he was stopped by airport security. He told them he had been visiting his parents in Pakistan for five months and was returning to Connecticut, where he planned to stay in a hotel and look for a job. He told the authorities his wife had stayed behind in Pakistan.
Instead of a hotel, Shahzad moved into the three-story home on Sheriden Street in Bridgeport, sharing it with a roommate, authorities said. Neighbors said they hardly ever saw him in the few months he lived on the street.
'Person Of Interest'
In late April of this year, Shahzad contacted a Bridgeport teenager about buying a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder she was trying to sell on craigslist. Sources said that contact eventually led authorities to Shahzad after the aborted bombing attempt because he used a prepaid cellular phone to make the transaction.
Sources familiar with the investigation said that the gray SUV was owned by Peggy Colas, 19, of Bridgeport. She agreed to meet Shahzad on April 24 in a nearby supermarket parking lot so he could see the car. When they met, she told him the car had some mechanical issues but he never looked under the hood, only in the back of the vehicle, the sources said. The same afternoon, they met again and went for a test drive.
Shahzad agreed to pay her $1,300, all in $100 bills. When a person who was with Colas started drafting a bill of sale, Shahzad told him "he had his own license plate," which he then produced, the sources said.
That license plate, which was found on the Pathfinder in Times Square, belonged to a different vehicle owned by a Bridgeport man who had taken it to Kramer's Auto Body Shop in Stratford a few weeks earlier.
It is unclear how Shahzad obtained the license plate; authorities said it was never reported stolen. Department of Motor Vehicle spokesman William Seymour said Tuesday night that the department "is waiting for the federal investigation to be completed before determining whether to do their own investigation" of the license plate issue.
A few days after the purchase, Shahzad called back Colas to ask when the car last had an oil change, records show. Investigators were able to quickly tie Shahzad to the Pathfinder by tracing the phone number from Colas' phone. They later determined that, after he bought the Pathfinder, Shahzad made four calls to a number in Pakistan as well as to a fireworks store in Pennsylvania.
Shahzad was now a "person of interest." State police staked out the Bridgeport and Shelton addresses all night Sunday and through the day Monday. His name was entered into the "no-fly" list, which became key, federal authorities said, when he tried to leave the country Monday night on a plane to Dubai.
Shahzad paid cash for a plane ticket and was on board as it taxied toward the runway before federal officials called it back, boarded the plane and arrested him without incident.
Courant staff writers Matthew Kauffman, David Owens and Edmund H. Mahony contributed to this story.