TERRORISM SINCE 9/11
The American Cases
Edited by John Mueller
Ohio State University
1501 Neil Avenue
Columbus, Ohio 43201 USA
1000 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
January 10, 2017
This book includes a detailed discussion, each organized in a similar manner, of the cases that have come to light of Islamist extremist terrorism since 9/11, whether based in the United States or abroad, in which the United States itself has been, or apparently has been, targeted. It mostly springs from papers generated in honors seminars I conducted at Ohio State University. Interns at the Cato Institute have also contributed case studies. I have added an introduction as well as a headnote for each case. Since we plan to update, revise, and correct, and then to re-post from time to time, each case study and each headnote is dated and carries its own individual pagination.—John Mueller
The full 974-page book can be accessed in pdf (11 MB) by clicking here.
Available in printed form from The Educational Publisher https://edupublisher.com
Information: Bob Sims at firstname.lastname@example.org
Cases that have come to light of Islamist extremist terrorism since 9/11,
whether based in the United States or abroad,
in which the United States itself has been, or apparently has been, targeted
The cases are arrayed below. There are studies for those with underlined titles. Click on separate file to access the individual case as an independent file.
1. An Islamist extremist conspiracy or connection that, in the view of the authorities, might eventually develop into a plot to commit violence in the United States
2. An Islamist extremist terrorist plot to commit violence in the United States, no matter how embryonic, that is disrupted but not by infiltrating a police operative into the plot
3. An Islamist extremist plot to commit violence in the United States that is essentially created or facilitated in a major way by the authorities by infiltrating a police operative into the plot and then arresting the plotters when enough evidence is accumulated
4. An Islamist extremist terrorist or terrorist group that actually reaches the stage of committing, or trying to commit, violence in the United States
Case number, title, type, year, description, author for full case studies
Introduction—John Mueller separate file
1 The shoe bomber 4 2001 British man tries to blow up a US‑bound airliner with explosives in his shoes but is subdued by passengers and crew—Jolie Yang separate file
2 Padilla 1 2002 American connected to al‑Qaeda who had discussed a dirty bomb attack returns to US and is arrested—Allison Barbo separate file
3 Mt. Rushmore 3 2002 Two men in Florida, one of them possibly connected to an al‑Qaeda operative, plot, crucially aided by an informant, to bomb local targets as well as Mt. Rushmore before 9/11, and are arrested and tried the year after.
4 El Al at LAX 4 2002 A depressed anti‑Israel Egyptian national shoots and kills two at the El Al ticket counter at Los Angeles airport in an act later considered to be one of terrorism, and then is killed by a guard—Zachary Zaerr separate file
5 Lackawanna 1 2002 Seven Americans in Lackawanna, NY, are induced to travel to an al‑Qaeda training camp, but six return disillusioned, all before 9/11, and are arrested the next year—Blaise Katter separate file
6 Kahn and the Parachas 2 2003 A young Pakistani seeks to help an al‑Qaeda operative enter the country to attack underground storage tanks at gas stations—Alexander Hitchcock separate file
7 Abu Ali in Saudi Arabia 2 2003 A US citizen joins a terrorist cell in Saudi Arabia and plots to hijack a plane in the US and to assassinate President Bush when he is arrested by the Saudis and extradited to the US for trial—Leigh Stephens separate file
8 Columbus and the Brooklyn Bridge 2 2003 American connected to al‑Qaeda discusses shooting up a shopping mall in Columbus, OH, with two friends, then scouts taking down the Brooklyn Bridge for al‑Qaeda, but decides it's too difficult—Drew Herrick se
9 Barot and the financial buildings 2 2004 Group in London tied to al‑Qaeda scouts out financial buildings in US with an eye to bombing them, but never gets to the issue of explosives—Tessa Reinhart separate file
10 Albany 3 2004 Two men in Albany, NY, effectively help fund an informant's terror plot—Michael Spinosi separate file
11 Nettles 3 2004 An American with a long history of criminal and mental problems plots under the nickname of "Ben Laden" to blow up a federal courthouse in Chicago and reaches out for help to a Middle Eastern terrorist group, but gets the FBI—Rachel Cohen separate file
12 Herald Square 3 2004 Loud‑mouthed jihadist in New York and a schizophrenic friend attract informant who helps them lay plans to bomb the Herald Square subway station—Surili Sheth separate file
13 Grecula 3 2005 An American with visions of being an modern day Spartacus agrees to build a bomb to be exploded in the US for undercover agents claiming to be al‑Qaeda—Todd Ives separate file
14 Lodi 1 2005 American in Lodi, California, who may have attended a training camp in Pakistan but with no apparent plan to commit violence is arrested with the aid of an informant—Andrew Ashbrook separate file
15 JIS 2 2005 American in jail masterminds a plot by three others to shoot up military recruitment centers, synagogues, and a non‑existent military base in the Los Angeles area but, although close to their first attack, the plot is disrupted when they leave a cell phone behind at a funds‑raising robbery—Demetrius Daniels-Hill separate file
16 Pipelines and the terrorist hunter 3 2005 An American offers on the internet to blow up pipelines in Canada as an aid to al‑Qaeda, and attracts the attention of free‑lance informant—Shannon Buckner separate file
17 U of North Carolina 4 2006 To punish the US government for actions around the world, a former student, after failing to go abroad to fight or to join the Air Force so he could drop a nuclear bomb on Washington, drives a rented SUV onto campus to run over as many Americans as possible and manages to injure nine—Andrew Braun separa
18 Hudson River tunnels 2 2006 Angered by the US invasion of Iraq, several men plot on the internet to flood railway tunnels under the Hudson river, but are arrested overseas before acquiring bomb materials, meeting each other in person, or setting foot in the US—Zachary Karabatak separate file
19 Sears Tower 3 2006 Seven men in Miami plot with an informant, whom they claim they were trying to con, to take down the Sears Tower in Chicago, then focus on closer buildings—Lauren Brady separate file
20 Bombing transatlantic airliners 2 2006 Small group in London, under intense police surveillance from the beginning, plots to explode liquid bombs on US‑bound airliners—Tyler Puhl separate file
21 Rockford Mall 3 2006 Loud mouthed jihadist attracts attention of an informant and together they plot exploding grenades at a shopping mall in Rockford, IL—David Bernstein separate file
22 Fort Dix 3 2007 Small group target practices, buys guns, and plots to attack Ft. Dix, NJ, with the aid of an informant who joins the group when the FBI is told they took a jihadist video into a shop to be duplicated—Jovan Galevski separate file
23 JFK airport 3 2007 Small group, with informant, plots to blow up fuel lines serving JFK airport in New York—Bryan Staub separate file
24 Vinas 2 2008 New York man travels to Pakistan, is accepted into al‑Qaeda, and plots to plant a bomb in the US, but is being watched and talks after being arrested—David Dawson separate file
25 Bronx synagogues 3 2009 Four men, with crucial aid from an informant, plot to bomb synagogues in Bronx, NY, and shoot down a plane at a military base—David Bernstein separate file
26 Little Rock 4 2009 American man travels to Middle East to get training, but fails, and on return, working as a lone wolf, eventually shoots and kills one soldier at a military recruitment center in Little Rock, AK—Michael Coleman separate file
27 Boyd and Quantico 2 2009 Complicated conspiracy in North Carolina including an informant, gathers weapons and may have targeted Quantico Marine Base—Kelly Stritzinger separate file
28 Zazi 2 2009 Afghan‑American and two friends travel to Pakistan to join Taliban, but are recruited by al‑Qaeda to plant bombs on NY subways instead, and are under surveillance throughout—Justin Heilmann separate file
29 Springfield 3 2009 Loud mouthed jihadist plots, with informants, to set off a bomb in Springfield, IL—Ronald Lieberman separate file
30 Dallas skyscraper 3 2009 Jordanian on a student visa rouses interest from the FBI in internet postings and, together with three agents, tries to detonate a fake bomb in the basement of a Dallas skyscraper—Lauren Brady separate file
31 Mehanna 2 2009 Well‑educated Muslim jihadist may have plotted briefly to shoot up a shopping center in the Boston area and tried to join insurgency in the Middle East, but is arrested for spreading jihadist propaganda—Malgorzata Mrozek separate file
32 Killings at Fort Hood 4 2009 Military psychiatrist, acting as a lone wolf, shoots up a military deployment center in Ft. Hood, TX, killing 12 soldiers and one civilian, shortly before he is supposed to be deployed to the war in Afghanistan—Taylor Schmaltz separate file
33 The underwear bomber 4 2009 Nigerian man tries to blow up a US‑bound airliner with explosives in his underwear but is subdued by passengers and crew—Matthew Spade separate file
34 Times Square 4 2010 Pakistani‑American gets training in Pakistan and on his own tries, but fails, to set off a car bomb at Times Square in New York—David Tan separate file
35 Alaska 3 2010 Muslim convert in a remote Alaska town plots the assassination of 20 with the aid of an informant separate file
36 Parcel bombs on cargo planes 2 2010 An effort by al‑Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula to set off parcel bombs implanted in printer cartridges on cargo planes bound for the United States is disrupted by an insider—Ruxton McClure separate file
37 DC Metro—bomb plot 3 2010 A Pakistani‑American aids FBI operatives posing as al‑Qaeda in a plot to bomb the DC Metro—Chad Chessin separate file
38 Oregon 3 2010 Teenaged Somali‑American jihadist, unable to go abroad to fight, works with FBI operatives, apparently alerted by his father, to set off a van bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, OR—David Bernstein separate file
39 DC Metro—Facebook 2 2010 Virginia man brags without substance to a female Facebook correspondent that he will bomb the Washington Metro soon, and is quickly arrested for making interstate threats, receiving a light sentence—Lauren Brady separate file
40 Baltimore 3 2010 Baltimore man seeks allies on Facebook for violent jihad, and the FBI supplies him with an informant and with a fake SUV bomb with which he tries to blow up a military recruitment center—Lauren Brady separate file
41 Texas 2 2011 Saudi student in Texas, flunking out and displaying intense new discontent on his blog and Facebook profile, is arrested after buying bomb‑making materials and considering potential targets including crowded streets in distant New York and a local residence of former President George W. Bush—David Bernstein s
42 Manhattan's pair of lone wolves 3 2011 Upset with how the US treats Muslims around the world mentally ill American citizen, with accomplice and undercover officer, purchases weapons as the first step in a plot to blow up synagogues, the Empire State Building, and other targets in New York and New Jersey separate file
43 Pentagon shooter 2 2011 A US marine reservist with jihadist literature shoots at military buildings in the DC area and is arrested as he seeks to desecrate the graves of veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan—Andrew Braun separate file
44 Seattle 3 2011 Two financially‑destitute men, exercised over US foreign policy, are arrested in Seattle after they purchase an FBI‑supplied machine gun that they plan to use to attack a military recruiting center after they save up enough money to purchase bullets and other material. separate file
45 Abdo 2 2011 A US Army Private, unwilling to wage war on Muslims, is arrested after he buys ammunition and bomb materials to explode in a restaurant popular with soldiers—Nicole Spaetzel separate file
46 Model planes 3 2011 Seeking to “decapitate” the US “military center,” a mentally‑ill hobbyist plots with police operatives to attack the Pentagon with remote‑controlled model planes bearing explosives and then to shoot at people as they flee the building—Ruxton McClure separate file
47 Iran and Scarface 3 2011 An Iranian‑American used‑car salesman from Texas, nicknamed “Scarface” from the results of an earlier street brawl, is engaged for a promised $1.5 million by members of the Iranian government to arrange for a Mexican drug cartel to blow up Saudi Arabia's ambassador in a Washington restaurant but is foiled by an undercover Drug Enforcement Agency operative who is wired $100,000 as a down payment—Zachary Zaerr separate file
48 Pimentel’s pipe bomb 3 2011 A naturalized US citizen and Muslim convert, hostile to US military ventures in the Middle East, seeks to make pipe bombs using match heads to attack various targets separate file
49 Tampa 3 2012 Under suspicion after he walked into a store seeking to purchase an al‑Qaeda flag, an Albanian‑American loner plots in Tampa with a police operative to detonate a car bomb, fire an assault rifle, wear an explosive belt, take hostages, and bomb nightclubs, a police center, several bridges, and a Starbuck's coffee shop in order to avenge wrongs against Muslims and to bring terror to his “victims hearts”—Nicole Spaetzel sepa
50 Capitol bomber 3 2012 A Moroccan man who had overstayed his visa for years and had been thrown out of his apartment for non‑payment of rent, concludes that the war on terror is a war on Muslims, plots with FBI operatives, and is arrested as he seeks to carry out a suicide bombing at the Capitol—Zachary Karabatak separate file
51 Chicago bar 3 2012 Drawn by the violent jihadist emails and internet postings composed by an unemployed and apparently retarded 18-year-old Egyptian-American who felt the US was at war with Islam, FBI agents gain his confidence, supply him with a fake bomb which he parks outside a Chicago bar he said was filled with “the evilest people,” and then arrest him when he attempts to detonate it from a nearby alley—Rachel Cohen separate file
52 Bombing the Federal Reserve Bank 3 2012 A college flunk-out from Bangladesh uses his parents’ life-savings to study in the US and reaches out on Facebook, obtains the help of the FBI to do something that will “shake the whole country,” and is arrested when he tries to set off an FBI-supplied bomb planted at the Federal Reserve Bank from a nearby hotel room—Todd Ives separate file
53 The brothers plot 2 2012 Two brothers in Florida plot to set off a bomb in New York in revenge for US drone attacks in Afghanistan, but are arrested before getting very far beyond bicycling around Manhattan looking for targets
54 Boston Marathon 4 2013 Two Chechen-American brothers, working alone, detonate two homemade bombs in a crowd at the Boston marathon, killing three, and then are killed or captured a few days later after an exhaustive and dramatic manhunt—Chad Chessin separate file
55 Wichita airport 3 2013 A worker at the Wichita, Kansas, airport plots with FBI agents to detonate a car bomb at dawn at the airport.
56 Rochester 3 2014 A local man, in sympathy with Islamic State militants, plots with FBI operatives to shoot and kill members of the U.S. military.
57 Killings in Seattle and New Jersey 4 2014 Apparently motivated by hostility to American foreign policy, a man murders three in Washington state and is captured later when he kills another in New Jersey—Alex Iammarino separate file
58 New York axe attack 4 2014 An ISIS devotee attacks four police officers with an axe in New York and is shot dead.
59 Cincinnati 3 2015 A young local loner, in sympathy with ISIS, plots with FBI operatives to set off a bomb at the Capitol in Washington, DC—Cassandra Dula separate file
60 Ohio returnee from Syria 2 2015 A Somali-American, actively communicating about his plans with friends on social media, travels to the Middle East, stays about a month, receives some training, returns, and may have planned to commit violence—Maria Chabali separate file
61 Aurora 3 2015 Unable to travel abroad to fight because of a felony conviction for trying to rob a McDonalds, an Illinois man plots with FBI operatives to “unleash the lion” by attacking a local National Guard Armory.
62 Two women in Queens 3 2015 Protesting that “It’s war” and “Protest don’t work” and “Why can’t we be some real bad bitches?” two women, one in communication with al-Qaeda in Yemen, try to fabricate bombs with the aid of an undercover officer.
63 Miami 3 2015 Posting sympathies to ISIS on Facebook, a Florida man is arrested after he seeks to buy arms and ammunition (with plans to emboss “ISIS” on the shell casings) from an FBI operative.
64 Fort Riley 3 2015 A young man enthusing on Facebook about being killed in jihad, plots with FBI operatives to explode a 1000-pound bomb at a nearby military base—Alex Rhodes separate file
65 Carolina 2 2015 Two men, one a teen, plan to rob a gun shop, attack a North Carolina military base, then go to the Middle East to join ISIS.
66 Shootings at Cartoon Contest in Garland, Texas 4 2015 Two men with very limited connections to ISIS and other terrorist groups drive from Phoenix to Garland, Texas, wearing body armor and carrying six guns, open fire at an anti-Islamist exhibit, and are gunned down by a traffic officer armed only with a handgun and then killed by a SWAT team—Sam Zacher separate file
67 New England 4 2015 Three ISIS-inspired men variously to carry out terrorist attacks and there is an attempted stabbing of a police officer in Boston.
68 Attempted stabbing of an FBI agent in New York 4 2015 Three ISIS-inspired men in the New York area variously plot attacks and one tries to stab an FBI agent searching his home.
69 Cleveland 3 2015 After posting his ISIS sympathies and declaring on social media that “WW3” has just begun, a man is arrested as he seeks to buy a rifle from an FBI operative.
70 Sullivan 3 2015 Tipped off by his stepfather, the FBI puts an operative on, and eventually arrests, an unstable 19-year-old man in North Carolina with a yearning to kill hundreds of people on behalf of ISIS and who had previously robbed and killed a neighbor to get money for weapons.
71 Ciccolo 3 2015 Turned in by his father, a Boston police captain, a man who advertised his desire to join ISIS on social media and had a long history of mental illness plans to attack a university cafeteria deemed to be “very sinful” and is arrested when an undercover agent supplies him with weapons—Maria Chabali separate file
72 Chattanooga 4 2015 A mentally-ill man with no known terrorist connections, but who possessed some jihadist literature and whose life was on a downward spiral, kills five military personnel in Tennessee and then is killed in a shoot-out with police—Niko Pittore separate file
73 Florida 3 2015 Alerted by a Facebook account with selfie photographs and beheading videos posted by a man who considers himself to be a member of ISIS and expects the group soon to come to the US to fight, an FBI operative befriends the author and arrests him when he accepts a bomb.
74 UC Merced 4 2015 After visiting ISIS websites and being kicked out of a study group, a student at the University of California, Merced, stabs four people on campus and then is killed by police—Niko Pittore separate file
75 Akron 2 2015 An ISIS supporter is arrested when he posts on social media the names and addresses of 100 military people he thinks should be killed and declares that he would be proud when he sheds American blood.
76 San Bernardino 4 2015 A husband and wife, professing loyalty to ISIS, fire guns in an attack at a holiday party killing 14, and then are killed in a battle with police in a subsequent chase—Alex Iammarino separate file
77 ISIS fund transfer 2 2015 A Baltimore man, tracked for months, is arrested when he receives at least $8700 from Islamic State operatives in Egypt to fund a terrorist attack in the US, although he claims he was merely seeking to scam the money from the group.
78 Rochester panhandler 3 2015 Deemed an “aggressive panhandler” by a local restaurant/bar owner, a mentally-unstable man, part of a four-man terrorist cell or cluster (the other three are FBI operatives), becomes “ready to give up everything” to join ISIS in Syria and, to show ISIS that he is serious, plots to attack the restaurant/bar with a machete that one of the FBI operatives purchases for him at Walmart—Cassandra Dula separate file
79 Philadelphia 4 2016 Man attempts to kill a Philadelphia police officer with a stolen handgun and says, “I pledge my allegiance to the Islamic State, and that’s why I did what I did.”
80 Orlando 4 Alex Rhodes separate file
83 Recruiter for an ISIS attack in North Carolina 3 2016 A North Carolina man seeks to recruit people over social media, including an undercover FBI agent, to carry out ISIS attacks in the United States.
85 Southern Illinois 1 2016 An 18-year old with a history of mental illness who once used a rock to scratch a pickup truck is charged with making a verbal threat to commit a “mass casualty event” and providing material support to a terrorist organization.
86 Minnesota shopping mall 4 2016 An unassuming Somali-American student and part-time security guard, afterwards proclaimed a “soldier” by ISIS, goes on a stabbing spree, injuring ten people in a shopping mall in St. Cloud, Minnesota, before being killed by an off-duty police officer.
87 Chelsea bomber 4 2016 A 28-year-old Afghan-American, apparently inspired by al-Qaeda, plants several homemade bombs in the New York area, two of which explode, killing no one, and the bombmaker is later arrested after a shootout with police.
88 Houston 3 2016 A 24-year-old Iraqi refugee who wants to join ISIS, plots with an FBI informant to set off bombs at two Houston shopping malls.
89 Bomb plot in an Arizona prison 2 2016 Following a tip, police disrupt a plot by a 38-year old Muslim convert, ISIS supporter, and lifer at an Arizona prison to use “radicalized materials” and bombmaking information mailed to him by his wife to murder the warden or blow up a vending machine in the visitors section.
90 Garbage truck at Times Square 3 2016 A 37-year old Yemen-born Uber driver in Brooklyn avidly supports ISIS on Facebook, tries and fails to join the group, and then discusses driving a garbage truck into a crowd at Times Square with an FBI informant he met through his Facebook posts.
91 Ohio State 4 2016 A Somali refugee, a student at Ohio State, apparently outraged at the persecution of Muslims around the world particularly in Burma, injures thirteen people by driving his car into a crowd on campus and by leaping from the car and stabbing with a butcher knife and then is shot dead by a campus police officer.
92 Suffolk 3 2016 After the FBI is informed that a Suffolk, Virginia, man had voiced support for ISIS on his Facebook page and had purchased an AK-47 rifle, they have an agent contact him posing as an ISIS member and arrest him after he gives the agent $250 to support the terrorist group and after he says he is ready to “go forth.”
There are also two case studies concerning efforts by Islamist extremists to go abroad to inflict damage on US interests there:
98 New York Stock Exchange 2010 Three men seek to join the fight against the US in the Middle East and find a couple of operatives in Yemen who agree to help them (and after being arrested, identity them), but only after the men send over tens of thousands of dollars and case the New York Stock Exchange for a possible attack—Jake A. Douglas separate file
99 Toledo 2006 Three men in Toledo, OH, seek to join the fight against the US in the Middle East but fail to get in while attracting the attention of an informant who trains them—Meagan Woodall separate file