Oh? Got proof? Or are you just repeating what you have been told?
Foiled Plots Since 9/11
In the days after 9/11, America immediately went to work to prevent another act of terrorism by reassessing U.S. counterterrorism abilities. Lessons emerged, including the need for more information sharing down to the state and local level and with our allies, more intelligence-gathering abilities, and greater integration among the U.S. government agencies and with state and local governments, industry, and private citizens. The U.S. addressed these needs by:
* Developing terrorism-fighting legal and investigatory tools, including the PATRIOT Act and the expansion of Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA), to help to identify, prosecute, and convict terrorists.
* Increasing information sharing and collective security around the globe through assistance programs, information-sharing agreements, and the sharing of counterterrorism best practices.
* Developing law enforcement partnerships from the grassroots level up, which have enabled the U.S. to disrupt the flow of money and resources to terrorist groups and to prevent acts of terrorism across the United States. The creation of Joint Terrorism Task Forces has been a key part of this effort.
However, not everyone agrees that these efforts have been successful. A September 2008 report from the American Security Project challenged the notion that the U.S. is better prepared for a terrorist attack. However, given that there has not been another attack on U.S. soil since 9/11, it is difficult to argue that America is no safer. A review of publicly available information shows that 23 attacks have been thwarted.
Richard Reid, December 2001. A British citizen and self-professed follower of Osama bin Laden, Reid hid explosives inside his shoes before boarding a flight from Paris to Miami and attempted to light the fuse with a match. If detonated, the explosives would have damaged the plane. Reid was caught in the act and apprehended on board the plane by the flight attendants and passengers. FBI officials took Reid into custody after the plane made an emergency landing at Boston's Logan International Airport.
In 2003, Reid was found guilty on charges of terrorism, and a U.S. federal court sentenced him to life imprisonment.
Jose Padilla, May 2002. U.S. officials arrested Padilla in May 2002 at O'Hare Airport in Chicago as he returned to the United States from Pakistan. He was initially charging as an enemy combatant and for planning to use a "dirty bomb" (an explosive laced with radioactive material) in an attack against America. Prior to his conviction, Padilla brought a case against the federal government claiming that he had been denied the right of habeas corpus (the right of an individual to petition against unlawful imprisonment). In a 5-4 decision, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the case against him had been filed improperly. In 2005, the government indicted Padilla for conspiring with Islamic terrorist groups.
In August 2007, Padilla was found guilty by a civilian jury after a three-month trial. He was later sentenced by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to 17 years and four months in prison.
Lackawanna Six, September 2002. When the FBI arrested Sahim Alwan, Yahya Goba, Yasein Taher, Faysal Galab, Shafal Mosed, and Mukhtar al-Bakri, the press dubbed them the "Lackawanna Six," the "Buffalo Six," or the "Buffalo Cell." Five of the six had been born and raised in Lackawanna, New York. These six American citizens of Yemeni descent were arrested for conspiring with terrorist groups. They had stated that they were going to Pakistan to attend a religious training camp, but instead attended an al-Qaeda jihadist camp.
All six pleaded guilty in 2003 to providing support to al-Qaeda. Goba and al-Bakri were sentenced to 10 years in prison, Taher and Mosed to eight years, Alwan to seven and a half years, and Galab to seven years.
Iyman Faris, May 2003. Faris is a naturalized U.S. citizen originally from Kashmir and lived in Columbus, Ohio. He was arrested for conspiring to use blowtorches to collapse the Brooklyn Bridge. The New York City Police Department learned of the plot and increased police surveillance around the bridge. Faced with the additional security, Faris and his superiors decided to cancel the attack.
Faris pleaded guilty to conspiracy and providing material support to al-Qaeda and was later sentenced in federal district court to 20 years, the maximum allowed under his plea agreement.
Virginia Jihad Network, June 2003. In Alexandria, Virginia, 11 men were arrested for weapons counts and for violating the Neutrality Acts, which prohibit U.S. citizens and residents from attacking countries with which the United States is at peace. Four of the 11 men pleaded guilty. Upon further investigation, the remaining seven were indicated on additional charges of conspiring to support terrorist organizations. They were found to have connections with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and Lashkar-i-Taiba, a terrorist organization that targets the Indian government. The authorities stated that the Virginia men had used paintball games to train and prepare for battle. The group had also acquired surveillance and night vision equipment and wireless video cameras.
Ali al-Timimi, the spiritual leader of the group, was found guilty of soliciting individuals to assault the United States and sentenced to life in prison. Ali Asad Chandia received 15 years for supporting Lashkar-i-Taiba, but maintains his innocence. Randoll Todd Royer, Ibrahim al-Hamdi, Yong Ki Kwon, Khwaja Mahmood Hasan, Muhammed Aatique, and Donald T. Surratt pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison terms. Masoud Khan, Seifullah Chapman, and Hammad Adur-Raheem were found guilty at trial and later sentenced.
Dhiren Barot, August 2004. Members of a terrorist cell led by Dhiren Barot were arrested for plotting to attack the New York Stock Exchange and other financial institutions in New York, Washington, and Newark, New Jersey. They were later accused of planning attacks in England. The plots included a "memorable black day of terror" that would have included detonating a dirty bomb. A July 2004 police raid on Barot's house in Pakistan discovered a number of incriminating files on a laptop computer, including instructions for building car bombs.
Dhiren Barot pleaded guilty and was convicted in the United Kingdom for conspiracy to commit mass murder and sentenced to 40 years. However, in May 2007, his sentence was reduced to 30 years.
James Elshafay and Shahawar Matin Siraj, August 2004. James Elshafay and Shahawar Matin Siraj were arrested for plotting to bomb a subway station near Madison Square Garden in New York City before the Republican National Convention. An undercover detective from New York City Police Department's Intelligence Division infiltrated the group, providing information to authorities, and later testified against Elshafay and Siraj.
Siraj was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Elshafay, a U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty and received a lighter, five-year sentence for testifying against his co-conspirator.
Yassin Aref and Mohammad Hossain, August 2004. Two leaders of a mosque in Albany, New York, were charged with plotting to purchase a shoulder-fired grenade launcher to assassinate a Pakistani diplomat. An investigation by the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms, and local police contributed to the arrest. With the help of an informant, the FBI set up a sting that lured Mohammed Hossain into a fake terrorist conspiracy. Hossain brought Yassin Araf, a Kurdish refugee, as a witness. The informant offered details of a fake terrorist plot, claiming that he needed the missiles to murder a Pakistani diplomat in New York City. Both agreed to help.
Aref and Hossain were found guilty of money laundering and conspiracy to conceal material support for terrorism and later sentenced to 15 years in prison.
Umer Hayat and Hamid Hayat, June 2005. Umer Hayat, a Pakistani immigrant, and Hamid Hayat, his American son, were arrested in Lodi, California, after allegedly lying to the FBI about Hamid's attendance at an Islamic terrorist training camp in Pakistan.
Hamid was found guilty of supporting terrorism and was sentenced to 24 years. Umer's trial ended in a mistrial. He later pleaded guilty to lying to customs agents in his attempt to carry $28,000 into Pakistan.
Levar Haley Washington, Gregory Vernon Patterson, Hammad Riaz Samana, and Kevin James, August 2005. The members of the group were arrested in Los Angeles and charged with conspiring to attack National Guard facilities, synagogues, and other targets in the Los Angeles area. Kevin James allegedly founded Jamiyyat Ul-Islam Is-Saheeh (JIS), a radical Islamic prison group, and converted Levar Washington and others to the group. The JIS allegedly planned to finance their operations by robbing gas stations. After Washington and Patterson were arrested for robbery, police and federal agents began a terrorist investigation, and a search of Washington's apartment revealed a suspicious target list.
James and Washington pleaded guilty in December 2007. James was sentenced to 16 years in prison and Washington to 22 years. Patterson received 151 months, while Samana was found unfit to stand trial and detained in a federal prison facility.
Michael C. Reynolds, December 2005. Michael C. Reynolds was arrested by the FBI and charged with involvement in a plot to blow up a Wyoming natural gas refinery; the Transcontinental Pipeline, a natural-gas pipeline from the Gulf Coast to New York and New Jersey; and a Standard Oil refinery in New Jersey. He was arrested while trying to pick up a $40,000 payment for planning the attack. Shannen Rossmiller, his purported contact, was a Montana judge who was working with the FBI. The FBI later found explosives in a storage locker in Reynolds's hometown of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. Reynolds claimed that he was working as a private citizen to find terrorists.
Reynolds was convicted of providing material support to terrorists, soliciting a crime of violence, unlawful distribution of explosives, and unlawful possession of a hand grenade. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Mohammad Zaki Amawi, Marwan Othman El-Hindi, and Zand Wassim Mazloum, February 2006. Amawi, El-Hindi, and Mazloum were arrested in Toledo, Ohio, for "conspiring to kill or injure people in the Middle East" and providing material support to terrorist organizations. They allegedly intended to build bombs for use in Iraq. The investigation was begun through the help of an informant who was approached to help to train the group.
In June 2008, all three were convicted of conspiring to commit acts of terrorism against Americans overseas, including U.S. military personnel in Iraq and other terrorism-related violations. Their sentencing is scheduled for August 2009.
Syed Haris Ahmed and Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, April 2006. Ahmed and Sadequee, from Atlanta, Georgia, were accused of conspiracy, having discussed terrorist targets with alleged terrorist organizations. They allegedly met with Islamic extremists and received training and instruction in gathering videotape surveillance of potential targets in the Washington, D.C., area, including the U.S. Capitol and the World Bank headquarters, and sent the videos to a London extremist group.
Both were indicted for providing material support to terrorist organizations and pleaded not guilty. In June 2009, a federal district judge found Ahmed "guilty of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists here and overseas." Sadequee was denied bail and is awaiting trial.
Narseal Batiste, Patrick Abraham, Stanley Grant Phanor, Naudimar Herrera, Burson Augustin, Lyglenson Lemorin, and Rotschild Augustine, June 2006. Seven men were arrested in Miami and Atlanta for plotting to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago, followed by FBI offices and other government buildings around the country. The arrests resulted from an investigation involving an FBI informant. Allegedly, Batiste was the leader of the group and first suggested attacking the Sears Tower in December 2005.
All of the suspects pleaded not guilty. On December 13, 2007, Lemorin was acquitted of all charges, but the jury failed to reach a verdict on the other six. The second trial ended in a mistrial in April 2008. In the third trial, the jury convicted five of the men on multiple conspiracy charges and acquitted Herrara on all counts. Sentencing is set for July 26, 2009.
Assem Hammoud, July 2006.Conducting online surveillance of chat rooms, the FBI discovered a plot to attack underground transit links between New York City and New Jersey. Eight suspects including Assem Hammoud, an al-Qaeda loyalist living in Lebanon, were arrested for plotting to bomb New York City train tunnels. Hammoud, a self-proclaimed operative for al Qaeda, admitted to the plot. He was held by Lebanese authorities, but was not extradited because the U.S. does not have an extradition treaty with Lebanon. In June 2008, Lebanese authorities released him on bail. He is awaiting trial before a Lebanese military court.
Liquid Explosives Plot, August 2006. British law enforcement stopped a terrorist plot to blow up 10 U.S.-bound commercial airliners with liquid explosives. Approximately 24 British persons were arrested in the London area. The style of the plot raised speculation that al-Qaeda was behind it, but no concrete evidence has established a link.
The United Kingdom initially charged 15 of the 24 arrested individuals on charges ranging from conspiring to commit murder to planning to commit terrorist acts. Eventually, only eight men were brought to trial in April 2008. In September, the jury found none of the defendants guilty of conspiring to target aircraft, but found three guilty of conspiracy to murder. It was unable to reach verdicts on four of the men. One man was found not guilty on all counts. Those convicted are still awaiting sentencing.
Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, March 2007. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, captured in 2003, was allegedly involved in a number of terrorist plots and was one of the most senior of Osama bin Laden's operatives to have been captured. He is being held at the U.S. military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay. In March 2007, Mohammed admitted to helping to plan, organize, and run the 9/11 attacks and claimed responsibility for the 1993 bombing of the World Trade Center and the bombings of nightclubs in Bali in 2002 and a Kenyan hotel. He has stated that he decapitated American journalist Daniel Pearl and took responsibility for helping to plan the failed attack by Richard Reid, along with plots to attack Heathrow Airport, Canary Wharf, Big Ben, targets in Israel, the Panama Canal, Los Angeles, Chicago, the Empire State building, and U.S. nuclear power stations. He had also plotted to assassinate Pope John Paul II and former President Bill Clinton.
In December 2008, Mohammed and his four co-defendants (Ramzi Binalshibh, Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, and Walid Bin Attash) told the military tribunal judge that they wanted to confess and plead guilty to all charges. The judge has approved the guilty plea of Mohammed and two co-defendants, but has required mental competency hearings before allowing the other two conspirators to plead guilty.
Fort Dix Plot, May 2007. Six men were arrested in a plot to attack Fort Dix, a U.S. Army base in New Jersey. The plan involved using assault rifles and grenades to attack and kill soldiers. Five of the alleged conspirators had conducted training missions in the nearby Pocono Mountains. The sixth helped to obtain weapons. The arrests were made after a 16-month FBI operation that included infiltrating the group. The investigation began after a store clerk alerted authorities after discovering a video file of the group firing weapons and calling for jihad. The group has no known direct connections to any international terrorist organization.
In December 2008, all five were found guilty on the conspiracy charges, but acquitted of charges of attempted murder. Four were also convicted on weapons charges. All are awaiting sentencing.
JFK Airport Plot, June 2007. Four men plotted to blow up "aviation fuel tanks and pipelines at the John F. Kennedy International Airport" in New York City. They believed that such an attack would cause "greater destruction than in the Sept. 11 attacks." Authorities stated that the attack "could have caused significant financial and psychological damage, but not major loss of life."
Russeel Defreitas, the leader of the group, was arrested in Brooklyn. The other three members of the group--Abdul Kadir, Kareem Ibrahim, and Abdel Nur--were detained in Trinidad and were extradited in June 2008. Kadir and Nur have links to Islamic extremists in South America and the Caribbean. Kadir was an imam in Guyana, former member of the Guyanese Parliament, and mayor of Linden, Guyana. Ibrhaim is a Trinidadian citizen, and Nur is a Guyanese citizen. The men pleaded not guilty to the charges and are awaiting trial.
Mohammed Jabarah, January 2008. Mohammad Jabarah was involved in plots to bomb U.S. embassies in Singapore and the Philippines and mass transit frequented by U.S. military personnel. He was convicted of filming U.S., Australian, and Israeli embassies and conducting surveillance of U.S. warships. He is suspected of training in al-Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and spending time with Osama bin Laden. Jabarah was arrested in 2002 by Omani police and was later transferred to American custody. In January 2008, Jabarah was sentenced to life in prison after pleading guilty to terrorism charges.
Hassan Abujihaad, March 2008. Hassan Abujihaad, a former U.S. Navy sailor from Phoenix, Arizona, was convicted of supporting terrorism and disclosing classified information, including the location of Navy ships and their vulnerabilities to Azzam Publications, a London organization that provided material support and resources to terrorists. Abujihaad was arrested in March 2007 and pleaded not guilty to charges of supporting terrorism in April 2007. In May 2008, he was convicted by a jury and sentenced to 10 years in prison.
Christopher Paul, June 2008. Christopher Paul is a U.S. citizen from Columbus, Ohio. He joined al-Qaeda in the 1990s and was involved in conspiracies to target Americans in the United States and overseas. In 1999, he became connected to an Islamic terrorist cell in Germany, where he was involved in a plot to target Americans at foreign vacation resorts. He later returned to Ohio and was subsequently arrested for conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction, specifically explosive devices, "against targets in Europe and the United States." Paul pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
Synagogue Terror Plot, May 2009. On May 20, 2009, the New York Police Department announced the arrest of James Cromite, David Williams, Onta Williams, and Laguerre Payen for plotting to blow up area Jewish centers and shoot down planes at a nearby Air National Guard Base. The four had attempted to gain access to Stinger missiles and were caught in the act of placing bombs in the buildings and in a car. (The bombs were duds, because undercover agents sold them fake explosives as part of an ongoing sting operation). All four men have pleaded not guilty.