Saturday’s failed car bombing in Times Square was a reminder that the terror war is still on, if a reminder was needed. And as with the Christmas Day bomb plot, America only avoided catastrophe because of terrorist incompetence.
Investigators on the case have found leads pointing to foreign terrorists. It’s possible the hit was ordered or inspired by Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, thought slain in a Predator strike but seen this week in a new video declaring that the United States is his organization’s main target. Considering coalition forces have been trying to kill him for some time, it makes sense that he or others might seek some form of direct revenge, but whether they’re capable of doing this remains to be seen.
The fact remains that America is a prime terrorist target, and the plots and attacks keep coming. Add the Times Square car bomb to a growing list that includes: the June 2009 fatal shooting at an Army recruiting station in Arkansas by Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, a homegrown, Yemeni-trained Muslim; Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, a Jordanian illegal alien arrested in September 2009 for planning to car-bomb a Dallas office tower; Michael Finton, an American convert to Islam, is charged with attempting to bomb the Paul Findley Federal Building in Springfield, Ill., in September 2009; the November 2009 Fort Hood massacre; the December 2009 arrest of five men from Northern Virginia in Pakistan for terrorism-related activities; Christmas Day 2009 would-be underwear bomber Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab; and lethal ladies Colleen LaRose, aka Jihad Jane, of Pennsylvania and Jamie Paulin-Ramirez of Colorado, charged with various terrorism related-crimes. Brooklyn-born Betim Kaziu and 12 others were charged in 2009 with supporting the al Qaeda-affiliated al Shabab group; and last week, Brooklyn residents Wesam el-Hanafi and Sabirhan Hasanoff were indicted on charges of trying to help al Qaeda with modernization efforts.
New York has been the target of several attack plans in the past year. In May 2009, four men were arrested for plotting to blow up a New York City synagogue and use an anti-aircraft weapon to attack military aircraft in Newburgh, N.Y. Najibullah Zazi and two others planned to conduct a suicide attack on Grand Central Station in September 2009. Queens-born Bryant Neal Vinas, aka Ben Yameen al-Kanadeeis, received al Qaeda training in Pakistan and agreed to plan an attack on the Long Island Railroad before being apprehended by Pakistan authorities.
It’s important to point out that most of the people on this list didn’t successfully carry out their terror missions. In many cases, they had long been under surveillance and had no realistic chance of succeeding. The United States also benefits from the fact that we sometimes face D-list terrorists who cannot get the job done even when they slip through undetected.
The Times Square bomber focused on the “improvised” in his improvised explosive device; it used fireworks as a detonator and in addition to various explosives, had 100 pounds of fertilizer that would not have blown up. Abdulmutallab, the Christmas Day bomber, was equipped with a poorly functioning bomb hidden in his underwear that failed due to its faulty design. Either of these attacks would have been devastating had they been successful, and it is puzzling that in a world where terrorist bombs kill on a weekly basis, the enemy hasn’t made their murderous weapons work here - yet.
The Obama administration has done its best to de-emphasize various aspects of the war on terrorism, but the enemy keeps finding ways to make the point that they really do want to kill Americans. One of these days, their bombs will start working.