First Underwear Bomber Plot Thwarted (December 2009)The Plan: On Christmas Day 2009, Nigerian Islamist Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to detonate powerful plastic explosives sewn into his underwear while on board a commercial flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. Adbulmutallab was said to be working with Al-Qaida to try and bring down the plane.
How It Was Thwarted: Adbulmutallab's attempt to detonate the underwear explosives failed. Passengers on board Northwest Airlines Flight 253 saw him coming out of the plane's bathroom, smelled a strange odor, and heard popping noises. A small fire broke out and as flight attendants tried to put out the flames, Adbulmutallab was restrained by passengers. Unfortunately, while U.S. intelligence did have some information about a planned attack, Adbulmutallab managed to get on the plane with his explosives.
The Outcome: In February of 2012, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
New York City Synagogues Terror Plot Foiled (May 2009)The Plan: Four Muslim men were accused of plotting to blow up two synagogues in the Bronx, New York (the Riverdale Temple and the Riverdale Jewish Center). They also planned on shooting down U.S. Military planes at a New York Air National Guard base.
How It Was Thwarted: A paid informant helped the FBI catch the men. Shahed Hussain met with the would-be attackers at a mosque in Newburgh, New York, posing as a terror operative. When the group planted what they believed were explosives near the Jewish Center and the Temple in May of 2009, they were apprehended by the NYPD. The explosives and missiles that they believed were real, were actually fakes supplied with the help of the FBI's informant.
The Outcome: All four men, including the ringleader, James Cromitie, were convicted and sentenced to 25 years behind bars.
Times Square Bomb Plot Thwarted (May 2010)The Plan: Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan, was planning to detonate a bomb hidden inside a Nissan Pathfinder in New York City's Times Square. Shahzad also reportedly planned additional attacks on other Manhattan targets, including Grand Central Station and Rockefeller Center.
How It Was Thwarted: Two alert street vendors are credited with disrupting Shahzad's potentially deadly plan. On the evening of May 1, 2010, the vendors noticed smoke coming from a 1993 Nissan Pathfinder that was parked in Times Square (the engine was running and the SUV's hazard lights were on) at the busy intersection of West 45th Street and Broadway. They quickly alerted a nearby NYPD officer who saw canisters inside the SUV and smelled what he thought was gunpowder. The area was evacuated, a bomb squad was called in and the attack was successfully thwarted.
Within days, a Joint Terrorism Task Force, led by the FBI, took over the investigation and zeroed in on Faisal Shahzad. He was arrested at JFK Airport in New York on May 3, 2010.
The Outcome: Faisal Shahzad was convicted in October of 2010, and sentenced to life in prison without parole. In addition, Pakistan also arrested several suspects in the case, as Faisal was believed to have had help with his planned attack from Pakistani militants.
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