- Special Sections
- Public Notices
We are right in the midst of a prime air travel season. Thanksgiving is just behind us and Christmas is ahead. This brought to mind an opinion piece I read on the Internet earlier this month.
It was written by somebody named Ed Feulner who was identified as the president of the Heritage Foundation. Feulner noted that we haven't been hit by a terrorist attack on U. S. soil since 9/11.
"The reason we haven?t been hit is because U.S. authorities are actively pursuing ? and stopping ? individuals and groups intent on killing Americans," Feulner states.
Feulner goes on to mention the big Al Qaida fish we've nailed overseas. He also mentions the domestic Muslim extremists who have been arrested (some since convicted and sent to prison) and charged with plotting various and sundry terrorist attacks.
"Our many successes prove that the best way to prevent terrorist attacks is through effective intelligence collection, information sharing and coordinated, determined counterterrorism operations that stop criminals before they can attack. Terrorist organizations haven?t given up. They?re still active, as the list of publicly-known arrests attests," Feulner concludes.
I agree with this, but I would also suggest another possibility. The primary reason why there have been no terrorist attacks on U. S. soil since Sept. 11, 2001, may be because most of these guys aren't very clever. I give as an example the case of a couple of University of South Florida students who were arrested last summer.
Ahmed Abdellatif Sherif Mohamed and Youssef Samir Megahed, both Egyptian nationals, were charged with transporting explosives in interstate commerce without permits. The two, a Kuwaiti national and an Egyptian national, were also charged with possession of an explosive device.
How did they get caught? Did an undercover agent infiltrate a terrorist cell? Was it good police work on the part of the FBI?
No, it was none of the above. The two young men were driving through South Carolina and a sheriff's deputy pulled them over for speeding. According to a Washington Post article, dated Aug. 7, the deputy found several pipe bombs in the car. The article also stated that they were apprehended near a Navy base. The good police work was done by a law enforcement officer making a routine traffic stop.
The young men both deny wrong doing and, according to the Washington Post article, claim that what they had are homemade fireworks, cobbled together from stuff they bought at Wal-Mart.
If these guys were up to no good, and I suspect that a sheriff's deputy can tell the difference between a pipe bomb and fireworks, then they were about as slick as sandpaper. Doing something to call attention to yourself, like speeding, when you have a car full of illegal stuff is not the wisest course of action. Maybe they were just in too big of a hurry to claim jihadist glory and got excited thinking about all those virgins waiting for them.
From what Lt. Jim Bennett, of the Bedford Police Department, told me some time back, dumb criminal tricks are often a police officer's best friend. He recalled one case in which they caught a burglar because the fellow accidentally dropped an appointment card from his probation officer while committing the crime.
I also recall a case a few years back in which Bedford County Sheriff's deputies caught a cocaine courier while conducting a driver's license check point. The man was driving on a suspended license and the stop started a chain of events which led to officers having probable cause to search the vehicle. That's how they found the cocaine, hidden in a secret compartment.
We certainly need effective counterterrorist operations to sniff out people with an ideological ax to grind who are out to do us harm. However, we shouldn't overlook what the combination of a criminal's carelessness combined with the routine investigation of minor crimes can yield.