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Times Square suspect recently more religious, friend reportedly says

By the CNN Wire Staff
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Times Square bomb plot blunders
  • Friend of Shahzad from college contacts prominent Pakistani-American in Connecticut
  • Shahzad became introverted and a little more religious in past year, friend reportedly says
  • Shahzad reportedly told his friend that he was having trouble with his job in the U.S.

Vernon, Connecticut (CNN) -- A prominent member of the Pakistani-American community in Connecticut said Thursday that a suspect in last week's Times Square bombing kept a low profile but appeared to have become more religious over the past year.

"[Faisal Shahzad] was somebody who was under the radar; he was never a part of our community, never a part of our events or meetings," said Dr. Saud Anwar, founder and past president of the Pakistani American Association of Connecticut.

After news broke about suspect Shahzad, the pulmonologist sent e-mails to others in the community to dredge up what he could about him

"As a physician, I look at it as a disease," Anwar said of Shahzad's apparent radical turn. "I try to understand what led to the disease ... how we can prevent a disease like this."

Anwar said his e-mails turned up a man who studied with Shahzad at the University of Bridgeport and had stayed in touch with him since then. That man does not want to be identified publicly.

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"He recalled him as a regular individual, outgoing, interacting with people, interested to learn, not isolated," Anwar said.

But, in the past year or so, "he felt there was a change in his personality," Anwar said, explaining that Shahzad appeared to become introverted, asocial and "a little bit more religious."

Anwar added, "There was a little anger in there. [The friend] felt [Shahzad] was looking at things as true black and white."

Returning to his disease analogy, the physician said that after Shahzad returned from Pakistan early this year, "the disease became a little bit more progressive, much stronger."

Shahzad told his friend that he was looking for work in the Middle East "because he was having challenges with his job over here," Anwar said.

"He just mentioned that he was seeking something. I don't know if he found anything or not," Anwar said.