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11 September 2008

Terror Alert Image As is our tradition on the anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terror attack by al-Qaeda against the United States, we'll observe the notable occasions for which additional terror attacks have been prevented or whose blows have been blunted from achieving their aims against their targets in the past two years. Here's our list of thwarted attacks, presented in reverse chronological order:

August 18, 2008 Khost, Afghanistan

Two attackers attempted to conduct a suicide bombing of the U.S. base in Khost, Afghanistan on the country's Independence Day, which marks the anniversary of Afghanistan's independence from Britain in 1919. The first attacker detonated his explosive-laden vehicle outside the gates of the facility, killing 12 non-U.S. personnel. U.S. forces repelled the second attacker who fled the scene.

July 9, 2008 Istanbul American Consulate Attack

Four gunmen attempted to attack the U.S. consulate in Istanbul, Turkey but were thwarted by Turkish police. The BBC provides an eyewitness' description of the attack:

A witness to the attack, Yavuz Erkut Yuksel, said the attackers had initially emerged from a car and surprised the police officers guarding the building.

"One of them approached a policeman while hiding his gun and shot him in the head," he told CNN-Turk.

Governor Guler said: "There is no doubt this was a terrorist attack."

Three policemen were murdered in thwarting the attack. Three of the four assailants were killed, with the fourth escaping.

December 24, 2007 Istanbul Subway Bombing Attempt

The US State Department provides the following details of this terror attempt in its section detailing travel to Turkey:

In December 2007, a suspected male PKK member carrying three kilograms of A-4 explosive material in a backpack was arrested by Turkish National Police in Istanbul’s Mecidiyekoy Square; the intended target was the Mecidiyekoy subway station.

October 2, 2007 US Austrian Embassy Bomb Plot

Two Bosnian men were arrested in Austria following a failed attempt to bomb the U.S. Embassy in Vienna. The AP reports:

Investigators said both men were citizens of Bosnia-Herzegovina who lived in Tulln and knew each other. The suspects' last names were not released, in line with Austrian privacy laws.

Asim C. was arrested Monday after his bag — packed with the explosives and several handfuls of nails and screws apparently intended to serve as shrapnel — set off a metal detector at the entrance to the heavily fortified embassy, which is guarded by U.S. Marines.

He fled on foot, but was captured a short distance away after tossing the backpack into the street. It did not explode, and no one was injured.

Ankara Car Bomb September 11, 2007

From the BBC's report:

Police in Turkey's capital, Ankara, have prevented a large bomb from exploding, the city's governor said.

Sniffer dogs detected a van stuffed with explosives in the centre of the city, preventing a "possible catastrophe", Governor Kemal Onal said. ...

Ankara's governor said a large quantity of explosives had been left in the van which had a false licence plate.

It was parked in a multi-storey garage in Kurtulus, a densely populated area of central Ankara.

German Terror Plot September 4, 2007

Germany announced the arrest of three men, all members of the Islamic Jihad Union, a Uzbekistan-based group with ties to al-Qaeda, who had amassed more than 700 kilograms of hydrogen peroxide (the same chemical used by suicide bombers to kill 56 people and injuring over 700 in London on July 7, 2005), who appeared to be planning massive attacks against locations frequented by U.S. citizens in Germany. Here's more information about the thwarted terror plotters:

The three suspects were all unemployed. Two were German converts to Islam, who had attended Pakistani camps run by Islamic Jihad Union.

Born in Munich, Fritz Gelowicz, 28, moved to Ulm with his parents and brother at the age of 5. He converted to Islam between the ages of 15-18 while attending the Multi-Kultur-Haus in Ulm with friend Tolga Dürbin, and used the name Abdullah. He was married in January 2007, to a German-Turkish woman. He was attending college in Ulm, studying to be an engineer. He was raised in an upper middle class family where his father was a solar heating salesman and his mother was a nurse. His parents separated when he was 15, and Gelowicz remained with his father. He was considered the leader of the plot.

Daniel Martin Schneider, 21, lived in Saarbruecken, where he had disputes with his neighbours over his loud prayers. He dropped out of the twelfth grade after only a few weeks. He converted to Islam at the age of 19, and spent time studying the Koran and Arabic in Egypt.

Adem Yilmaz, varyingly reported as 28 or 29, was born in Turkey. He came to Germany with his family in 1993. He has two younger sisters and a younger brother. His family lives in Germany's Hessian area. Seven lesser figures are also being hunted. Only five are known by name. The other two have been identified by aliases. Four of the ten suspects (including Yilmaz) have been identified as Turkish.

August 6, 2007 Goose Creek Incident

The Goose Creek Incident of 6 August 2007 joins the list of thwarted terrorist activity with the detailing of the explosives found in the car of two University of South Florida engineering students, Kuwaiti national Ahmed Adba Sherf Mohamed and Egyptian national Yousef Samir Megahed, who were stopped near Naval Weapons Station Charleston in South Carolina. TampaBay.com describes what was found:

Those items included: three pieces of PVC piping that were filled with a mixture of potassium nitrate, Karo syrup and kitty litter. Federal authorities called it a potassium nitrate low-grade explosive mixture, and said they also found more of that mixture in a separate container in the trunk.

Additionally they found an electric drill, a box of .22 caliber bullets, a five gallon container filled with gasoline and 23-feet of safety fuse.

FBI analysts said the explosive mixture met the definition for a low-grade explosive. Hoffer said many of the items had been purchased locally, in and around Tampa, by Mohamed.

They also found a laptop computer in the men's car. On the laptop they found a 12-minute video on which a man shows how to turn a radio-controlled toy car into a remote controlled detonator, Hoffer said.

Mohamed admits that it is him in the video, although you cannot see his face, Hoffer said.

In the video, Mohamed said that he was showing how to make such a device "to save one who wants to be a martyr for another battle,'' Hoffer said.

June 29, 2007 London Car Bombs

Two car bombs were discovered and disabled before they could be detonated. Here's what Wikipedia had to say about the suspects, who are still at large:

U.S. officials told NBC News that three men have been identified and are believed to be from Birmingham. Furthermore, the network reported that one of the three men could be an associate of Dhiren Barot, an Indian convert to Islam who was sentenced to life in prison last year for plotting to fill limousines with explosives similar to those found in these incidents and park them in garages beneath hotels and office complexes. Bharot, whom police described as a high-level al-Qaeda operative, also planned to attack five financial landmarks in the United States: the New York Stock Exchange and the Citigroup Tower in New York City; the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank, both in Washington, D.C.; and the Prudential Building in Newark, New Jersey.

June 30, 2007 Glasgow International Airport Attack

A Jeep Cherokee loaded with propane canisters was driven into a set of glass doors at Glasgow International Airport in Scotland and set on fire by its occupants on June 30, 2007. Wikipedia describes how the terrorists attack was blunted:

Security bollards outside the entrance stopped the car from entering the terminal, although the doors were damaged. The car's driver was severely burnt in the ensuing fire and five members of the public were also injured, none seriously. Some injuries were sustained by those assisting the police in detaining the occupants.

Both of the car occupants were apprehended at the scene, and all those injured were taken to the Royal Alexandra Hospital in nearby Paisley. Within three days, Scotland Yard had confirmed that eight people had been taken into custody in connection with this incident and that in London.

Police identified the two men as Bilal Abdullah, a British-born, Muslim doctor of Iraqi descent working at the Royal Alexandra Hospital, and Kafeel Ahmed, also known as Khalid Ahmed, the driver, who was treated for severe burns at the same hospital. A suicide note indicated that the two had intended to die in the attack. Ahmed did eventually die of his injuries, on 2 August.

Eight Terror Suspects Arrested in Copenhagen September 4, 2007
Here's Wikipedia's summary of the arrests:

Eight men with alleged links to leading senior Al Qaeda terrorists were arrested, the country's intelligence service said, claiming to have thwarted a bomb plot. The arrests occurred without incident in raids on eleven locations in and around Copenhagen. The suspects are of Afghan, Pakistani, Somali and Turkish origin.

JFK International Airport Terror Plot Disrupted, June 3, 2007

Three men who had been plotting to blow up JFK's fuel supply pipelines to cause massive casualties in the Queens borough of New York City were arrested after their cell was infiltrated by a police informant. Here's a description of the suspects from Wikipedia:

The suspects are Russell Defreitas, a United States citizen and native of Guyana who was the alleged ringleader and worked for a time at the airport; Abdul Kadir, a citizen of Guyana and former member of the Guyanaese National Assembly; Kareem Ibrahim, a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago; and Abdel Nur, a citizen of Guyana and uncle of former world welterweight boxing champion Andrew "Six Heads" Lewis. Defreitas was a former employee of JFK and was arrested in Brooklyn, New York. Kadir and Ibrahim were arrested in Trinidad on June 3, 2007. Nur surrendered to police two days later in Trinidad. On June 29 the four men were indicted on charges with conspiring to "cause death, serious bodily injury and extensive destruction" at the airport. On August 6 a judge ordered three of the alleged plotters extradited to the United States.

In a recorded conversation, Russell Defreitas allegedly told an informant that "Anytime you hit Kennedy, it is the most hurtful thing to the United States. To hit John F. Kennedy, wow.... They love JFK -- he's like the man. If you hit that, the whole country will be in mourning. It's like you can kill the man twice." Defreitas had allegedly seen arms and missiles being shipped to Israel which he felt would be used to harm Muslims.

May 6, 2007 Six Arrested in Plot to Attack New Jersey's Fort Dix

Six men were arrested by the FBI in connection with a plot to attack and kill U.S. soldiers in Fort Dix, New Jersey. Apparently "inspired" by videos produced by terrorist organizations, the plot appears to have solely originated in the United States. Here's a summarized background for the six men:

Dritan Duka (age 28), Shain Duka (26) and Eljvir Duka (23), brothers (ethnic Albanians) from ex-Yugoslavia. The Duka family entered the United States illegally through Mexico in October 1984. In 1989, father Ferik Duka made an application for asylum with the Immigration and Naturalization Service and acknowledged the family's illegal entry into the country. From 1996 to 2006, Cherry Hill police charged Dritan Duka and Shain Duka with assorted disorderly persons offenses, including marijuana possession, improper behavior, prowling, disturbing the peace, and obstructing the administration of law. They were fined between $20 and $830 on various occasions and sent home, according to court records. The three brothers were also issued about 50 traffic citations between 1997 and 2006 - more than 20 by Cherry Hill police - for speeding, driving without licenses, driving while on the suspended list, failure to appear in court, and other charges.

Mohamad Ibrahim Shnewer (22), Dritan Duka's brother-in-law, a Palestinian cab driver from Jordan, who became a naturalized citizen.

Serdar Tartar, born in Turkey, worked at his father's pizzeria.

Agron Abdullahu, ethnic Albanian, said to have provided weaponry instruction to the group; and worked at a ShopRite supermarket in Buena Vista Township, New Jersey.

We'll note that we have omitted a series of several smaller incidents for which not enough details are available to fully determine if they fall into the category of terrorist acts, as opposed to unrelated criminal activities. We may update this page as more information about these incidents become available.

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