A Denver airport shuttle driver from Afghanistan who plotted to blow up subway trains in New York City. A Jordanian who tried to destroy one of Dallas' tallest skyscrapers. An American who thought he was detonating a truck bomb aimed at a federal courthouse in Springfield, Ill.
Law enforcement authorities who successfully stymied these attacks have been at pains to emphasize that there are no connections between the three.
Of course there are.
Maybe it will prove to be the case that the three suspects at the heart of these interrupted plots - Najibullah Zazi, Hosam Maher Husein Smadi and Michael C. Finton (also known as Talib Islam) - had no connection in a tactical or operational sense.
Still, it is absurd, and extremely dangerous, to insist that they are not connected in at least one way: What apparently animated all three of these suspects (and perhaps a number of others believed to have been involved in the New York plot who are still at large) is the seditious, supremacist theo-political-legal program authoritative Islam calls Shariah.
Shariah requires its adherents to engage in jihad - the struggle to bring about the triumph of Islam worldwide through whatever means are available. Shariah explicitly calls for the use of violent techniques designed to instill terror in those who stand in the way of a global Muslim theocracy.
Lethal truck bombs, pellet-laced explosive vests and backpacks and bombs or hijackers aboard aircraft already have been used for this purpose. It is a matter of time before vastly more destructive weapons of mass destruction (chemical, biological, radiological or nuclear) become available to jihadists who believe that, pursuant to Shariah, they are fulfilling Allah's will when they kill "infidels" or otherwise force them to submit to Islam.
Even more insidious, though, is what Robert Spencer calls "stealth jihad." This practice involves using myriad nonviolent measures to insinuate Shariah into non-Muslim societies. Adherents demand such concessions as special treatment for them and their faith in public spaces, private corporations, schools, communities and government at every level.
The prime mover behind these demands is the Muslim Brotherhood, an organization that shares the violent jihadists' commitment to advance Shariah's end state of a global caliphate, but seek (for the moment, at least) to do so nonviolently.
The successful prosecution last year of one Brotherhood front, the Holy Land Foundation, established that the organization's mission is "to destroy Western civilization from within ... by its own miserable hand."
What happens as tolerant democratic societies try to accommodate themselves to the stealthy form of jihad, backed by the persistent threat of the violent form - if not its actual occurrence, can be seen in much of Western Europe. For example, France now has 751 zones urbaines sensibles - Muslim-only areas that amount to "no-go" zones for French authorities.
In these zones, Shariah rules instead of the laws of the host government, at the expense most notably of women's rights, due process and public order (especially for Jews, Christians and other non-Muslims).
To be sure, accommodations to date to Shariah have not metastasized in the United States to nearly this extent. There are, however, numerous worrisome examples of concessions that have been made here, too.
To cite a few: Taxpayer-financed foot baths for Muslims installed at state universities; corporations providing Muslim-only prayer rooms and time off for prayers; government-sanctioned discrimination by taxi drivers against passengers deemed "impure" (haram) because they have alcohol or dogs; unhygienic practices in food plants to accommodate the preferences of Muslim workers; government-offered Shariah-compliant mortgages; Islamic proselytizing in public school curricula, etc.
The failure by U.S. and other governments' officials to recognize the connection between Shariah and jihad (of either the violent or stealthy kind) is like a refusal to acknowledge that there is a common virus causing an outbreak of swine flu.
How could the medical establishment hope to identify appropriate prophylactic measures (for instance: Keep children in school or shut the schools down? Take antibiotics or not?) if it were not permitted to understand the nature of the virus? There certainly would be little chance of developing effective vaccines under those circumstances.
We face approximately the same problem if we require our law enforcement, intelligence, homeland security and military personnel to behave as though there is no toxic virus - think of it as the "anti-swine flu," since pork is the ultimate in haramunder Shariah - animating those seeking to destroy us, our government and our freedom-loving way of life.
At best, we will be able to stop some of the attacks the jihadists are plotting against us. We certainly will not be able to defeat the disease and thereby protect Western civilization from its potential for truly pandemic virulence.
Our natural allies in taking such a stance against Shariah are the many millions of Muslims around the world whose practice of their faith does not involve adherence to this medieval, barbaric and totalitarian program.
Indeed, most Muslim immigrants in America came here to get away from Shariah in their native lands. Only by differentiating such Muslims from the carriers of this lethal virus can we hope to inoculate them against the spread of the disease - and enlist their help in protecting the rest of us by keeping American Shariah-free.
Frank J. Gaffney Jr. is president of the Center for Security Policy, a columnist for The Washington Times and host of the nationally syndicated program, "Secure Freedom Radio."