List of unsuccessful terrorist plots in the United States post-9/11

The following is a list of unsuccessful terrorist plots in the post-9/11 United States. After the initiation of the War on Terrorism following the attacks of September 11, 2001, several terrorist plots aimed at civilian and military targets have failed to succeed. Many such terrorism plots were created by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation, with agents providing plans, materials, and encouragement to the supposed "terrorists" — often mentally unstable individuals, small-time criminals, and other vulnerable targets — and then arresting them on terrorism charges.[1][2][3][4][5][6][7]

George W. Bush administration (first term)Edit

Date Target Description Location of arrest or attempt Suspect(s) Status
December 22, 2001 American Airlines Flight 63 A man was put into custody after attempting to detonate a shoe bomb.[8] Paris to Miami Richard Reid Serving a life sentence without parole[9]
May 8, 2002 Unknown A man was arrested after returning from Pakistan for allegedly attempting to build a dirty bomb.[10] Chicago, Illinois José Padilla Sentenced to 17 years in prison[11]
March 13, 2003 Brooklyn Bridge A man was arrested and accused of giving aid to al-Qaeda and attempting to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge[12] Columbus, Ohio Iyman Faris Sentenced to 20 years in prison[13]
June 2003 Unknown Eleven members of the Virginia Jihad Network were arrested and accused of training for holy war around the globe.[14] Northern Virginia Ali al-Timimi, Ali Asad Chandia, et al. All sentenced to 20 or less years in prison[15]
August 2004 New York Stock Exchange, World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the Citigroup Center Security in the United States was put on high alert after a plot to destroy the New York Stock Exchange and other financial institutions in New Jersey and Washington surfaces.[16] United Kingdom and New York City, New York Dhiren Barot Sentenced to life in prison[17]
August 28, 2004 34th Street-Herald Square subway station Two men were arrested after attempting to bomb the New York City Subway on the day before the 2004 Republican National Convention[18] New York City, New York Shahawar Matin Siraj and James Elshafay Sentenced to 30 years in prison[19]
August 2004 Pakistani diplomat Two men were arrested at an Albany mosque after attempting to gain possession of a shoulder-fired grenade launcher to assassinate a Pakistani diplomat.[20] Albany, New York Yassin Aref and Mohammed Hossain Both sentenced to 15 years in prison[21]

George W. Bush administration (second term)Edit

Date Target Description Location of arrest or attempt Suspect(s) Status
August 2005 Los Angeles-area U.S. Armed Forces bases, synagogues and other places Four men running an Islamic prison gang were arrested after allegedly attempting to destroy Los Angeles-area places.[22] Los Angeles, California Kevin James, et al. James sentenced to 16 years in prison[23]
December 2005 Williams Natural Gas (Wyoming), Transcontinental Pipeline, Standard Oil refinery A man was arrested on suspicion that he had plans to destroy several sites.[24] Pennsylvania Michael Curtis Reynolds Sentenced to 30 years in prison[25]
February 2006 Troops in Iraq, Toledo, Ohio citizens Three men were arrested for allegedly planning to build bombs for use by terrorists in Iraq.[26] Toledo, Ohio Mohammad Zaki Amawi, et al. Amawi was sentenced to 20 years in prison, the others 13 and 8 years, respectively.[27]
April 2006 Washington D.C.-area buildings Two men from Georgia were arrested after videotaping Washington-area buildings and sending the tapes to a London-based jihadist website.[28] Toronto, Ontario Syed Haris Ahmed and Ehsanul Islam Sadequee Ahmed sentenced to 13 years in prison, Sadequee sentenced to 17.[29]
June 2006 Sears Tower and FBI offices Seven men were arrested after allegedly plotting to bomb Sears Tower and FBI offices.[30] Miami, Florida, Atlanta, Georgia Narseal Batiste, et al. Five of the men were convicted. Batiste was sentenced to 13 years in prison.[31]
July 2006 PATH tunnels

Financial District

A man was arrested after allegedly attempting to bomb New York and New Jersey subway tunnels and flood the Financial District.[32] New York, New York Assem Hammoud
December 2006 Cherryvale Mall Derrick Shareef was charged after trying to trade stereo speakers for hand grenades and a handgun as part of a plan to terrorize shoppers at Cherryvale Mall in Rockford, Illinois during the holiday season.[33] Rockford, Illinois Derrick Shareef
May 7, 2007 Fort Dix Six men were arrested after attempting an attack on the Fort Dix military base.[34] Fort Dix, New Jersey Dritan Duka, et al. Four of the men received life sentences, one man received five years in prison and the other received 33[35]
June 3, 2007 John F. Kennedy International Airport Four men were arrested in New York after a plot is revealed to bomb the fuel line of JFK airport.[36] New York City, New York Abdul Kadir, et al. Kadir sentenced to life imprisonment.[37]

Barack Obama administration (first term)Edit

Date Target Description Location of arrest or attempt Suspect(s)
May 20, 2009 New York City synagogues/U.S. military aircraft Four men were arrested in New York after a plot is revealed to blow up two synagogues and shoot down a U.S. military aircraft.[38] New York City, New York James Cromitie, et al.
September 19, 2009 New York City Subway Zazi, a native of Afghanistan who lived in Colorado, was arrested and convicted of plotting to bomb the New York City Subway system. He was trained by al-Qaeda in Pakistan. 5 others were also indicted on related charges. "[39] New York City, New York Najibullah Zazi, et al.
September 24, 2009 Federal Building, Springfield, IL A 29 year old was arrested on charges that he intended to bomb the Paul Findley Federal Building in Springfield, IL.[citation needed] Springfield, Illinois Michael Finton
September 24, 2009 Fountain Place A 19-year-old was arrested on charges that he intended to bomb a downtown Dallas skyscraper.[40] Dallas, Texas Hosam Maher Husein Smadi
October 16, 2009 Various overseas targets Colleen LaRose, also known as JihadJane and Fatima LaRose, is an American citizen charged with terrorism-related crimes, including conspiracy to commit murder and providing material support to terrorists. Lars Vilks was a named target in response to drawings of Muhammad.[41] Philadelphia, Pennsylvania Colleen LaRose, et al.
December 25, 2009 Northwest Airlines Flight 253 A 23-year-old man was arrested after Northwest Airlines passengers jumped him to avoid his detonating an explosive device above the city of Detroit.[42] The explosive had been concealed in his underwear. He was convicted of eight federal criminal counts, including attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted mass murder. On February 16, 2012, he was sentenced to 4 life terms plus 50 years without parole. Detroit, Michigan Abdul Farouk Abdulmutallab
May 1, 2010 Times Square A Pakistani American who attempted the May 1, 2010 Times Square car bombing. He was arrested after he had boarded Emirates Flight 202 to Dubai. On June 21, 2010, in Federal District Court in Manhattan he confessed to 10 counts arising from the bombing attempt.[43] He was sentenced to life imprisonment. New York City, New York Faisal Shahzad
October 27, 2010 Arlington Cemetery station A Pakistani-born Virginia man was arrested and accused of casing Washington-area subway stations in what he thought was an al-Qaeda plot to bomb and kill commuters.[44] Arlington, Virginia Farooque Ahmed
September 28, 2011 The Pentagon and United States Capitol Rezwan Ferdaus, a U.S. citizen of Bangladeshi descent born and raised in Massachusetts, was arrested on September 28, 2011, for allegedly plotting to attack The Pentagon and United States Capitol with remote-controlled model aircraft carrying explosives. He was also charged for assembling IED detonators to be used in al-Qaeda plots to attack U.S. soldiers abroad.[45] Arlington, Virginia; Washington, D.C. Rezwan Ferdaus
January 7, 2012 Tampa and various other targets Sami Osmakac is a man who allegedly plotted an attack, to avenge what he felt were wrongs done to Muslims, in the area around Tampa, Florida. Osmakac, an Albanian from Kosovo and a naturalized US citizen, was arrested January 7, 2012, for the alleged attack plan, which involved bombing nightclubs, detonating a car bomb, using an assault rifle, wearing an explosive belt in a crowded area, and taking hostages.[citation needed] Tampa, Florida Sami Osmakac
February 17, 2012 United States Capitol A Moroccan man who was arrested by the FBI for allegedly plotting to carry out a suicide bombing on the United States Capitol. El Khalifi thought he was working with al-Qaeda operatives, but was in contact with undercover FBI agents. He was sentenced to prison for 30 years in September 2012.[46] Washington, D.C. Amine El Khalifi
October 17, 2012 Federal Reserve Bank of New York A Bangladeshi man was charged with trying to blow up the Federal Reserve building in New York. While Nafis believed he had the blessing of al-Qaeda and was acting on behalf of the terrorist group, he has no known ties, according to federal officials.[47] New York City, New York Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis

Barack Obama administration (second term)Edit

Date Target Description Location of arrest or attempt Suspect(s)
April 2013 Times Square After the Tsarnaev brothers successfully carried out the Boston Marathon bombing, they planned to use leftover explosives to terrorize Times Square in New York City, but after carjacking Dun Meng, a Chinese graduate student, the plot was foiled after he escaped and called the police leading them to the Tsarnaev's location. A shootout ensued resulting in the death of Tamerlan. Dzhokhar was captured days later after a citywide manhunt was declared to pin down his exact location. Watertown, Massachusetts Dzhokhar and Tamerlan Tsarnaev
January 2014 Mosques, an Islamic school, the White House A remote control radiation emitting device was to be used to attack a number of targets.[48][49] Eric Feight, Glendon Scott Crawford
February 14, 2015 Courthouse, bank, forest festival, first responders A West Virginia man had stockpiled C-4, dynamite and other weapons (including a sniper rifle to target first responders) to allegedly attack a federal courthouse, a bank, and the Mountain State Forest Festival in Elkins.[50] Elkins, West Virginia Jonathan Leo Schrader
April 2015 New York City A plot to build a pressure cooker bomb in New York City[51] was arranged by Asia Siddiqui, a Pakistani American,[52] and Noelle Velentzas. Siddiqui was in contact with Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, while Velentzas seemed to support the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIS). The two had researched bomb-making and purchased bomb making materials but were arrested before they selected a target.[53]

The women were arrested on April 2, 2015. According to the complaint, officers found "three propane gas tanks, soldering tools, pipes, a pressure cooker, fertilizer, flux, detailed handwritten notes on the recipes for bomb making, and extensive jihadist literature" at Siddiqui's apartment. Velentzas had information on creating bombs from propane tanks and a picture of Osama bin Laden. Velentzas also questioned why people would travel to Syria when there were ways of "pleasing Allah" in the United States. The two had been roommates until shortly before their arrest. Their plot was exposed by an undercover agent posing as a third conspirator.[53][54][55]

New York City Asia Siddiqui, Noelle Velentzas
June 2015 New York City The men had sought to detonate a pressure cooker bomb in support of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant.[56][57] Queens, New York Munther Omar Saleh, et al.
September 11, 2015 9/11 Memorial event in Kansas City, Missouri A Jewish American man, Joshua Ryne Goldberg, posing as an Australian ISIS supporter, attempted to get an FBI confidential informant to detonate a bomb at a Kansas City, Missouri September 11 attacks memorial event. Goldberg attempted to persuade the confidential informant to coat the shrapnel of the bomb in rat poison in order to maximize casualties.[58][59][60][61] On December 20, 2017, Goldberg pleaded guilty to attempted malicious damage and destruction by an explosive of a building.[62] Orange Park, Florida Joshua Ryne Goldberg
September 17–19, 2016 2016 New York and New Jersey bombings On the morning of September 17, a pipe bomb exploded in Seaside Park, New Jersey. Later that day, a homemade pressure cooker bomb went off in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan, New York City. A second pressure cooker bomb was discovered four blocks away. Suspect Ahmad Khan Rahimi was not part of a terrorist group, but his actions were believed to have been influenced by the extremist Islamic ideology. New York, New Jersey Ahmad Khan Rahimi
December 27, 2016 Jefferson, Iowa Law Enforcement Center Carroll, Iowa A Jefferson, Iowa man was tracked by an undercover operative while planning a joint "suicide by cop" attack with his wife, Joey Goodwin against the Greene County Law Enforcement Center in Jefferson, Iowa. This facility housed both the County Sheriff's Department and the local Police. The two had faced various felony burglary-related charges and, according to the informant, were "not going to prison under any circumstances." Tyson Ruth of Jefferson, Iowa, had compiled a vast array of weapons including an illegal-in-Iowa automatic rifle, tens of thousands of rounds of ammunition, explosives and had been propagating the growth of bacteria that cause anthrax and botulism. The couple had planned a biological attack on various civilian installations including public schools and the local hospital. At the time of initial arrest, some but not all of the weapons, ammunition, bacteria, explosives and two full Kevlar® body suits were confiscated as evidence. The informant was unsatisfied with the extremely light-handed charges for which the Carroll County Attorney, John Werden sought conviction, so he contacted Greene County Law Enforcement directly asking that Federal Agents be brought in to investigate. A secondary search warrant was executed by divisions of the Iowa Department of Criminal Investigation and the FBI/JTTF and the entirety of evidence was secured. Ruth was charged and then convicted on federal weapons charges.[62] Carroll, Iowa Tyson Ruth, Joey Goodwin

Donald Trump administrationEdit

Date Target Description Location of arrest or attempt Suspect(s)
December 20, 2017 San Francisco, California Pier 39 Former U.S. Marine from Modesto, California, arrested for plotting a Christmas terrorist attack at San Francisco's very popular, Pier 39 on behalf of ISIS. He planned to strategically bomb the pier to funnel people into a crowd, then begin with a mass shooting. The FBI stopped his plan after attention was brought to his pro-ISIS Facebook posts. Fall 2017, he was caught communicating with undercover FBI agents posing as ISIS recruiters, saying he was "wholehearted committed to the cause" and could provide "U.S. military resource" along with money to ISIS.[63] Modesto, California Everitt Aaron Jameson
December 10, 2018 Jewish synagogue in Ohio An ISIS supporter named Damon M. Joseph is arrested for attempting an attack on a synagogue. Joseph was inspired by the Pittsburgh synagogue shooting perpetrator Robert Bowers and told the police that he admired him and wished to carry out an attack similar to Bowers.[64] Toledo, Ohio Damon M. Joseph
December 10, 2018 Toledo bar Elizabeth Lecron and Vincent Armstrong were arrested for plotting an "upscale mass murder" at a bar in Toledo using explosives. Elizabeth Lecron had been a fan of Charleston church shooting assailant Dylann Roof having been in active correspondence with him and sending him a book about Belgian Waffen-SS Nazi leader Léon Degrelle. Lecron had already created a Tumblr page celebrating the church shooting in Charleston titled "charlestonchurchmiracle" as well as various other murderers. The two would be indicted on January 3, 2019.[65][66][67] Toledo, Ohio Elizabeth Lecron and Vincent Armstrong
February 20, 2019 Democratic, left-wing and socialist politicians, media personalities, and organizations A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant from Silver Spring, Maryland, Christopher Paul Hasson, arrested for unlawful firearm possession and drug charges. Prosecutors say Hasson followed the manifesto of Norwegian terrorist Anders Behring Breivik. Federal agents recovered 15 firearms and more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition from Hasson's Silver Spring apartment, and they said he had been stockpiling weapons and ammunition since 2017. Hasson was a self-proclaimed white nationalist and neo-Nazi skinhead who was inspired by terrorist Anders Behring Breivik the 2011 Norway attacks perpetrator and supported turning the Pacific Northwest into an all-white homeland and sent a letter to Harold Covington of the Northwest Front, and had compiled an extensive 'hit list' targeting various Democratic and left-leaning politicians, lawmakers, media personalities, as well as journalists working for CNN and MSNBC and the organizations Democratic Socialists of America and Social Democrats, USA. According to email documents, Hasson planned "biological attacks followed by attack [sic] on food supply", and a "bombing/sniper campaign".[68] Silver Spring, Maryland Christopher Paul Hasson
April 29, 2019 White nationalist rally, Jews, Churches, Police officers and the Santa Monica Pier A U.S. Army veteran with ties to ISIS was planning to bomb a white nationalist rally held by the United Patriot National Front (UPNF) in retribution for the Christchurch mosque shootings in Christchurch, New Zealand. He was also planning attacks on Jews, churches, police officers and the Santa Monica Pier.[69] Long Beach, California and Los Angeles, California Mark Domingo
June 7, 2019 Times Square, New York City Authorities arrested Ashiqul Alam, who planned to attack Times Square in New York City, New York with grenades, guns and a suicide vest.[70] New York City, New York Ashiqul Alam
October 8, 2020 Gretchen Whitmer, Michigan State Capitol, Michigan State Police The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested 13 members of the Wolverine Watchmen militia, who plotted to kidnap Gretchen Whitmer, the Governor of Michigan.[71] The plot was foiled by FBI informants in-person and online who had been reporting since March 2020. The capitol building of Michigan and the Michigan State Police were also targeted by the conspirators for acts of violence. Michigan 13 Wolverine Watchmen militia members

See alsoEdit


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Further readingEdit