THWARTED TERROR PLOT IN NYC…. Following up on an overnight item, reports this morning suggest the suspected domestic terrorists arrested in New York last night weren’t especially close to executing the plot, but it’s nevertheless a heartening success story on U.S. counter-terrorism efforts.
The FBI and NYPD busted a four-man homegrown terror cell Wednesday night that was plotting to blow up two Bronx synagogues while simultaneously shooting a plane out of the sky, sources told the Daily News.
The idea was to create a “fireball that would make the country gasp,” one law enforcement said.
Little did they know the plastic explosives packed into their car bombs and the plane-downing Stinger missile in their backseat were all phony — supplied by undercover agents posing as Pakistani militants linked to Al Qaeda.
The plan was hatched by four men — three Americans and one Haitian immigrant — most of whom are apparently jailhouse converts to a radical strain of Islam. Their plot included car bombs outside two NYC temples and an attack at Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh, Orange County, where the would-be terrorists apparently wanted to shoot down a cargo plane headed to Iraq or Afghanistan.
Thanks to the efforts on the FBI and the NYPD, these radicals were never able to procure actual weapons. For all the rhetoric from the right about why U.S. officials shouldn’t look at counter-terrorism as a law-enforcement/intelligence-gathering matter, success stories like this one help prove otherwise.
It’s also worth remembering what prompted the year-long investigation in the first place: “[A]n informant connected to a mosque in Newburgh said he knew men who wanted to buy explosives.”
The more Muslim Americans feel comfortable reaching out to law enforcement officials, letting them know about suspicious activities, the better. The more Muslim Americans feel alienated and unduly profiled, the less likely they are to come forward with information like this.
What’s more, as Hilzoy noted overnight, the terrorist suspects are being held on U.S. soil, will face charges in U.S. courts, and if convicted, will be locked up in U.S. prisons. I look forward to lawmakers — apparently from both parties — explaining to us why this is a bad thing.