An extended period of relatively little news about domestic terrorist threats was shattered this week. A spate of arrests and reports of fearsome plots have Americans back on edge and struggling to make sense of the suspects and continuous headlines. Below, the recent developments:
-- Last week authorities raided several New York City properties in connection with the arrest of Najibullah Zazi, a legal immigrant from Afghanistan living in Denver who authorities said Friday is believed to have been plotting an attack on the New York City subway system on Sept. 11 similar to the 2004 attacks in Madrid. The AP reported that Zazi criss-crossed the globe hunting for materials to make hydrogen peroxide bombs for al-Qaida, enlisting associates equipped with stolen credit cards to help him purchase massive quantities of hydrogen peroxide, acetone (the main component in nail polish remover) and a component to make the compound called TATP, the main explosive used in the London terror bombings of 2005. Zazi, who operated a coffee cart in New York and drove an airport shuttle in Denver, continues to maintain that he is not a terrorist. He has been transferred to NYC to face charges.
-- On Thursday a Jordanian named Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, 19, was arrested in Dallas after he parked a car he believed to be loaded with explosives, but were in actuality fakes supplied to him by an undercover FBI operative, in front of a downtown Dallas skyscraper. Undercover Arabic-speaking agents first made contact with Smadi, who's been living illegally in a small Texas town north or Dallas, after they discovered him championing jihad against the U.S. on an extremist, anti-American website. The relationship between the undercover agents and Smadi culminated with the FBI supplying him with a 2001 Ford Explorer Sport Trac laden with what Smadi believed was an explosive device similar to the one used by Timothy McVeigh in the Oklahoma City bombing that could be detonated by cellphone. He was arrested immediately after trying to detonate the impotent explosives.
-- Michael Finton, who also goes by the name of Talib Islam, was arrested in Illinois on Wednesday for allegedly plotting to blow up a federal building, an act which led him to being charged with attempted murder of federal employees and attempting to detonate a weapon of mass destruction. Finton, who authorities say idolized American citizen turned Taliban soldier John Walker Lindh, visited Saudi Arabia in 2008 and returned wanting to take action against Israel. He mentioned his intentions to an undercover law enforcement source, who in turn introduced Finton to an undercover FBI agent, who then arranged to supply Finton with an explosives-laden vehicle, just as the FBI did in the Smadi case. On Wednesday, Finton parked the vehicle in front of a federal building in Springfield, Illinois and was arrested after he attempted to detonate the fake bomb with a cellphone.
-- Daniel Patrick Boyd and Hysen Sherifi, two men arrested last month in North Carolina and charged with plotting terrorist acts overseas, were indicted yesterday for conspiring to murder U.S. military personnel by bombing the Marine base in Quantico, Virginia. The official indictment against the two provided little information outside of accusing Boyd and Sherifi of obtaining maps of the base and spending considerable time monitoring its activity. Prosecutors say that Boyd, a U.S. citizen, spent time in terror camps located in Pakistan and Afghanistan and fought on the side of Afghanistan against the Soviets in the early 1990s. Sherifi, a native of Kosovo, is a legal U.S. citizen.
-- Two men seen recently taking an extensive number of photographs of the Philadelphia subway system have raised concerns for authorities. Thus far, neither man has been positively identified, though police are hoping to track them down to question them on "the nature or the reason for taking the photographs."
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