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Radicalization of Times Square suspect was gradual, investigators say

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The lender foreclosed on the property, prompting speculation that financial hardship contributed to Shahzad's alleged violent turn. Bringing stacks of bills into the country could suggest that his family in Pakistan was trying to provide financial help.

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Shahzad's open declaration of the funds points to another emerging narrative -- that even though his ties to foreign radical groups may be real, he doesn't exhibit the instincts, training or traits of a hardened terrorist. Officials note that Shahzad did much out in the open, including booking his attempted getaway ticket on the Emirates airline under his own name even while he was probably aware that investigators were tracking him.

New information also surfaced Thursday on the whereabouts of his wife, Huma Mian, and their two children. U.S. and Pakistani officials said Shahzad has told interrogators that his family members are in Saudi Arabia and that he stopped there with them to drop them off during his February return from Pakistan to the United States.

Neighbors of Shahzad in Connecticut described him as a furtive figure, who generally avoided social interactions and was sometimes seen around his house late at night. One neighbor, Brenda Thurman, described seeing a figure dressed all in black with a tight hood over his head jump over the fence into Shahzad's back yard around midnight in January 2009. She went to investigate, and it was Shahzad returning from a late-night run.

"That was the only strange thing I knew about him," Thurman said. She added that Shahzad's wife seemed to spend a good deal of money on clothes. "They really loved Kohl's and Macy's," she said.

Those close to Shahzad saw indications of an emerging militancy in his personality.

Saud Anwar, past president of the Pakistani American Association of Connecticut, said he spoke with someone who attended the University of Bridgeport with Shahzad and continued to meet him on a social basis until a year ago. He said the individual, a Pakistani, did not wish to be identified.

"He said that a year ago [Shahzad] became more introverted, more religious, and more stringent in his views," Anwar said. He said that Shahzad was not saying anything "hateful" or expressing extremist views but that it was just a noticeable shift in his approach to life that contrasted with the "regular, social, interactive individual" he used to be.

U.S. intelligence officials and investigators said they are still seeking to determine the extent to which Shahzad was allowed into inner circles of the Pakistani Taliban.

Shahzad has claimed to have met higher-ups within the group, possibly including top leaders. But the assertions are greeted with some skepticism, in part because militant groups in Pakistan are likely to be suspicious that a new arrival from the United States might be a spy.

Staff writers Karen DeYoung, Sari Horwitz, Spencer S. Hsu, Anne E. Kornblut and Sandhya Somashekhar in Washington and Peter Finn and Mary Beth Sheridan in Connecticut and staff researcher Julie Tate in Washington contributed to this report.


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