Thursday, December 31, 2015
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
California law allowing seizure of guns without notice begins Jan. 1
Gun-safety legislation going into effect in California next week will allow authorities to seize a person’s weapons for 21 days if a judge determines there’s potential for violence.
Proposed in the wake of a deadly May 2014 shooting rampage by Elliot Rodger, the bill provides family members with a means of having an emergency “gun violence restraining order” imposed against a loved one if they can convince a judge that allowing that person to possess a firearm “poses an immediate and present danger of causing personal injury to himself, herself or another by having in his or her custody or control.”
“The law gives us a vehicle to cause the person to surrender their weapons, to have a time out, if you will,” Los Angeles Police Department Assistant Chief Michael Moore told a local NPR affiliate. “It allows further examination of the person’s mental state.”
“It’s a short duration and it allows for due process,” he continued, adding: “It’s an opportunity for mental health professionals to provide an analysis of a person’s mental state.”
Rodger, 22, killed six and injured 14 others before taking his own life during a wave of attacks across Isla Vista near the campus of University of California, Santa Barbara, that he carried out with two knives and three handguns that he had legally purchased. The rampage was prefaced by a video uploaded to YouTube of Rodger discussing his plans, as well as a 107,000-word manifesto, both of which were circulated minutes before he began killing.
“This is almost the kind of event that’s impossible to prevent and almost impossible to predict,” the university’s president, Janet Napolitano, said in the aftermath of Rodger’s ambush.
Twenty months later, implementation of the bill is expected to give family members a mechanism for having a loved one briefly lose access to their own, legally acquired weapons in hopes of stymieing any similar rampages in the future.
“[I]t’s the family members, it’s the people closest to the perpetrator who are in the best position to notice red flags,” Dr. Wendy Patrick, a San Diego State University professor and attorney, told San Diego’s CBS affiliate this week.
Second Amendment advocates have cried foul, however, and have insisted that new legislation is not the answer in a state already ripe with gun rules that are more restrictive than most anywhere else in America.
“We don’t need another law to solve this problem,” Sam Paredes, the executive director of Gun Owners of California, told The Associated Press. “We think this just misses the mark and may create a situation where law-abiding gun owners are put in jeopardy.”
Tuesday, December 29, 2015
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Monday, December 28, 2015
NRA Sounds Alarm on 6.3 Million Americans Losing Concealed Carry Handgun Rights
After Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring decided to unilaterally dismantle the commonwealth reciprocity agreements for concealed firearm licenses, the National Rifle Association is claiming the move will affect as many as 6.3 million permit holders.
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In a statement to the Daily Caller, executive director of NRA’s Institute for Legislative Action (NRA-ILA) Chris Cox said:
“Plain and simple, this is putting politics above public safety. This decision is both dangerous and shameful. The Attorney General knows that permit holders are among the safest groups of citizens in the commonwealth and the rest of the country.”
Cox added that “Herring has chosen the path of making self-defense harder” by eliminating the reciprocity agreements with 25 other states.
Officials of Virginia governor Terry McAuliffe’s administration have made gun control a top priority, trying to push through extensive anti-gun measures.
But such measures proved to be unfruitful. Virginia’s Republicans maintained control of the State Senate in 2015, despite major opposition funding from Michael Bloomberg.
Whether or not the decision by Herring has any lasting effect on crime or violence in Virginia, the new concealed carry structure will surely change the lives of many gun owners in the Old Dominion state.
Friday, December 25, 2015
Holiday Travel Tips
As we pack up and head out to visit family for the holidays, here are some important travel tips for gun owners and concealed carriers.
If you are flying, be sure to consult the TSA regulations related to flying with a firearm. Your firearms must be in a hard, locked case that cannot be pried open. If you have a flimsy plastic case with a single lock, check to see if you can pry the case open enough to touch the gun. If you can, the case will not be allowed on the plane. You can carry up to 11 pounds of ammo as well, so long as it is packed in a cardboard or plastic box. The ammo does not have to be locked. You can carry any number of magazines, but the magazines must be empty.
Also, consult with your airline so you know what their requirements are.
Declare Your Firearms
Remember that you cannot check-in in advance. You will need to get in line at the counter and declare that you have a firearm in your luggage. Simply tell the clerk you are declaring a firearm. You don’t need a permit or any other information. The clerk should know what to do to process your request.
Different Airports/Airlines Handle You Differently
Be aware that different airports and airlines handle concealed carry differently. For example, flying American Airlines out of Charlotte-Douglas, the lady at the counter simply asked me to open my suitcase so she could see that the firearm was locked securely. In Dallas, they pulled me aside and called a TSA agent to come inspect the gun. At Love Field and Midland-Odessa, flying Southwest, they asked me to open the case at the ticket counter and that was it. US Air out of Dallas was a nightmare. The lady at the counter had no idea what to do. She finally sent me to the inspection area, which is located between two security checkpoints, tucked into a corner behind a screen. I walked past it twice and almost missed my flight.
Allow Plenty of Time
It’s required that you be aboard any domestic flight 30 minutes prior to departure. To get there you need to allow plenty of time for parking, checking in, security checkpoints, and then getting to your gate. Since you’re travelling during the holiday season, allow yourself even more time. It’s going to be crazy, so plan ahead. Also, because you have an extra step of declaring a firearm (and possible inspection), you should allow even more time. I usually allow two hours before the flight on a normal travel day with a gun. For holiday travel, depending upon the airport, double that.
Don’t Put the Declaration in the Case
You will be asked to sign a declaration form that will be placed inside your luggage with the gun. Make sure the person at the ticket counter does not close the declaration inside your gun case. If the bag is pulled for inspection and they can’t find the declaration form, you’ll be paged and will have to go back to the inspection area to open the case.
Don’t Use TSA Approved Locks
Make sure both your luggage and the gun case are locked securely. Some people recommend using a TSA approved lock (and I have done this myself). This is actually prohibited by the regulation that governs transportation of firearms. Oddly enough, the TSA usually allows the use of these locks and airline personnel will not blink an eye if they see one. They are not legal, however, since they are designed to be opened by a master key, something which is prohibited by the regulation.
Clean Out Your Carry-On
Just make sure you don’t leave any prohibited items in your carry-on bag, like loose ammo, empty magazines, tactical knives…your gun. That’s an easy way to get into hot water at the security checkpoints.
Having the same key for both locks is also helpful as it will save you fumbling around trying to figure out which key goes to the luggage and which fits the gun case. Also, if you are travelling with someone else, give that person a copy of the key, just in case you lose yours. It would suck to go through the trouble of locking everything up and the hassle of declaring the firearm only to misplace the key and be unable to open the case for inspection or upon arrival.
I pack my gun in a case that is only big enough for the firearm, a knife, two mags and a 20-round box of self-defense ammo. When I arrive at my destination and retrieve my bags, the first thing I do (assuming it’s legal to carry where I am flying) is head for the restroom outside the security checkpoints and gear-up.
If you’re taking a holiday cruise, leave your guns at home. If the cruise line allows you to carry you will still be stuck dealing with the various national laws of the ports you visit. Most Caribbean countries require you to declare your firearms and all ammunition upon arrival and will confiscate and hold it until you depart. Don’t even bother.
Since December of 2010, Amtrak allows the carrying of firearms in checked baggage. The rules are similar to those for air travel. The difference is that you have to call 800-USA-RAIL no later than 24 hours before departure to notify Amtrak of your intent to declare a firearm. If you show up at the train station and declare a firearm, you won’t be allowed to board. You cannot carry a firearm on the train, even with a valid concealed handgun permit.
Greyhound has a strict policy against firearms or ammunition on the bus or in your checked luggage. So, if you have to take the bus, you can’t take your guns. Better to simply drive. Besides, luggage on buses are easily and routinely stolen, so why risk it?
The easiest way to travel with firearms is to drive. Just remember that you have to observe the laws of any states you drive through. Consult a good resource like Hangunlaw.us for details regarding the states you plan to visit (or drive through). You can travel with any number of guns, any amount of ammo, but you will need to secure your firearms in locked cases. If you plan to carry a concealed weapon, make sure you know the law in the states you plan to visit and make sure your permit will be honored. If you do not have a carry permit, or if you are carrying long guns, you will need to secure the unloaded firearms in a locked case in a place where you and your passengers cannot access it (the trunk).
Stopping for the Night
If you stop somewhere for the night, or to go sight-seeing, make sure your firearms are locked securely in your vehicle. Inside a locked case in the trunk or in a gun safe that is attached or mounted to the car’s frame or the frame of the seats is best. If you’re stopping for the night, bring the guns inside with you, if possible. That way if your car is stolen, your guns won’t be.
If you want to avoid the risk of having guns stolen or lost, and reduce your wait times in the airport or train station, ship your guns and ammo ahead to your destination. Find a FFL near your destination and contact them to arrange a transfer, then ship your guns to them. You cannot use USPS for this. Consult your common carrier’s website for requirements. Typically you have to take your package to a carrier location and let them know you are shipping a firearm. Most carriers will not allow you to put a firearm in a drop box location or to ship through a third party affiliated store (like a UPS Store). When you arrive at your destination, visit the FFL dealer to collect your firearm.
Don’t Be Discouraged
Most importantly, don’t let the added requirements and frustrations of carrying a firearm deter you from doing so legally. If you carry a concealed firearm every day where you live and work, why would you leave it at home when you travel? If it’s simply impossible to do it, find a legal alternative. Drive instead of riding a bus or taking a train. Ship your firearms ahead. Don’t take a gun with you on a cruise. Carrying requires sacrifices to do effectively. The difficulties of travel are just part of the deal. Whatever you do, don’t ignore the law. If it’s not legal don’t do it. If it is legal, make the extra effort.
Thursday, December 24, 2015
Existing Gun Laws Would Reduce Crime, But Are Not Enforced
In 2007, candidate Barack Obama said, “We know what to do. We’ve got to enforce the gun laws that are on the books.” He also alluded to cracking down on straw man purchasers and “unscrupulous gun dealers.” He continued to reiterate this view on the campaign trail in 2008, including calls for stronger background checks. When President Obama addressed the people of Newtown, he asked, “can we honestly say that we’re doing enough?” and answered, “If we’re honest with ourselves, the answer’s no. We’re not doing enough,” adding, “surely we can do better than this … if there’s even one step we can take to save another [life] … then surely we have an obligation to try”
But President Obama has apparently forgotten the words of candidate Obama. President Obama would have to look no further than a mirror to see who is responsible for not doing “better than this.” Strong enforcement of existing gun laws has not been a priority. CNN’s John Avlon writes, “before the Newtown shootings, the Obama administration had not made enforcement of existing guns laws a political or policy priority” and cites Arkadi Gerney, an adviser to New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg on illegal guns from 2006-11 who said, “during the Clinton administration there were efforts to fully enforce the gun laws we have.”
Failing to fund NICS
During the Obama administration, Congress has failed to provide the necessary funding for the National Instant Criminal Background Check System (NICS). NICS is the database checked during gun purchases to ensure individuals with criminal records & mental illness aren’t allowed to purchase guns. In 2007, Congress passed the NICS Improvement Amendments Act, which created incentives for states to improve the reporting of mental health information into background check system. Yet many states have made little or no progress reporting largely because Congress failed to follow through with funding, granting just 5.3% of the total authorized amount from FY 2009 through FY 2011
Ensuring, for example, that NICS has the mental health data that includes documentation of whether an individual has been involuntarily committed, has strong bipartisan support. Yet state reporting of such data has a long way to go; 19 states have provided fewer than 100 records of individuals disqualified on mental health grounds since the implementation of NICS in the early 1990s. This should be a “no-brainer.” A poll released in January 2010 showed 90% of gun owners’ support addressing such gaps. This is a prime example of not enforcing the existing laws, which candidate Obama said we need to do. This is where the administration is failing to “do enough.”
Prosecute people who falsify background check information
The Obama Administration Justice Department is also not strongly enforcing prosecutions of people who falsify information on their gun background checks. The FBI reported 71,000 instances of people lying on their background checks to buy guns in 2009. But the Justice Department prosecuted a mere 77 cases, or a fraction of 1%.
There’s no good reason to not enforce this law and prosecute violators. This also has strong support, with 99% of non-NRA member gun owners and 95% of NRA members expressing support for punishing traffickers to the full extent of the law. This is another area where the Obama Administration can “do better.”
The irony is that gun rights advocates have argued for years that it’s not that more gun laws are needed, but that the existing laws need to be better enforced. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said, “gun-rights activists [have] been saying for years and years [that] the existing laws should be enforced more effectively and proactively.” In line with that, the NRA backed the 2007 NICS Improvement Amendments Act that President Bush signed into law.
Straw Man purchases & Illegal gun trafficking
Another area the Obama administration could enforce existing laws is prosecuting straw man purchases and illegal gun trafficking. The FBI states gangs engage in illegal guns trafficking (as well as narcotics). The ATF defines straw man as using another person to acquire a firearm specifically when the end user is prohibited from acquiring the firearm. “That is to say, the actual purchaser is a felon or is within one of the other prohibited categories of persons who may not lawfully acquire firearms.” The straw purchaser violates federal law by making false statements on Form 4473.
Enforcing these existing laws is “common sense” and should be the “common sense” measures pursued, but President Obama has failed to take action. As noted in my previous article, rifles – which include bolt-action, semi-automatic, and so-called “assault rifles” – account for roughly 350 homicides that last few reported years (2.55-2.75% of homicides). Handguns account for nearly half of all homicides, or 6,009 out of 12,996 in 2010 (46%)and 6,501 out of 13,752 in 2009 (47%). Note that when candidate Obama referenced enforcing the current laws, he mentioned both mass shootings like Virginia Tech (in which the shooter was diagnosed with mental illness, but this information was not put into NICS in a timely manner, thereby allowing the shooter to buy guns legally) and less-sensational street crime, citing children “gunned down” in Chicago.
President Obama addressing the people of Newtown said, “are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage?” President Obama is not in fact powerless to make enforcement a priority. If he is serious about reducing crime, homicides and the mentally ill from obtaining weapons, then enforcement of these laws should be a priority.
Wednesday, December 23, 2015
Voices: Why I decided to buy a handgun
After months of soul-searching, I’ve decided to buy a handgun.
It’s not a decision to which I’ve come lightly. At least one co-worker came near to tears as she tried to dissuade me. But after a horrendous year of violence across the country, I’m left with the undeniable feeling that I ought to do something different. I’m no longer willing to wait for the government to protect me all of the time. As a former Vermonter and Boy Scout, I just can’t escape the feeling that I need to take more responsibility for my own safety.
Here’s the thing: more than almost anyone, I know the devastation handguns can cause. As a journalist who has covered many mass shootings, I’ve watched families ripped apart by death. I’ve seen entire communities shattered because some jerk who couldn’t control himself decided to take out his anger on the world with a weapon.
I also know I’m not the only one struggling with this decision. Gun shops across our country are reporting a surge in sales. And it’s a sad fact that gun sales go up after a shooting or a terrorist attack.
I have no illusions that I’m going to be the proverbial good guy with a gun. And even worse, I know the statistics that show I’m at risk, as a middle-age white man living in Colorado, of using the gun to kill myself.
I recognize that my decision doesn't make the best logical sense. My head knows that. On the other hand, we humans are emotional creatures, and this decision helps me feel better. Perhaps there's just some comfort in feeling like I'm taking action, even if all the statistics tell me I might actually just be making the problem worse
What else should I do? Our politicians have demonstrated they aren’t actually serious about reducing gun violence in America. I mean, while we accept that car crashes kill about 30,000 people annually, at least there’s a serious effort underway to reduce that number. And at the same time, there does appear to be an actual belief around the world and in our own country that Americans are a soft target.
I’ve never fired a handgun. And I hope to God I never fire mine in anger. The men and women we pay to carry guns and protect us rarely do it, and those that do often miss, or accidentally shoot their colleagues or innocent bystanders during the confusion of a gunbattle.
It’s those innocent bystanders that have me worried. I’ve been in Aurora, in Roseburg, in Killeen. Time and time again, mass murderers have targeted groups that were unprepared to fight back. Soft targets. What a terrible phrase.
For me, like for many people I’ve talked to, San Bernardino was the tipping point. As someone who goes to lots of community meetings and rallies, I’m all too aware of how vulnerable we are. A holiday party? Your co-workers? (For me, it started with movie theaters.) I’m not a fan of waiting for the next attack from a religious terrorist.
Joe Raedle, Getty Images
Gary Mendoza and his son Michael walk around a makeshift memorial near the Inland Regional Center as they pay their respects to those killed and injured on Dec. 7, 2015, in San Bernardino, Calif.
That’s got me thinking about that famous quote from Teddy Roosevelt: "Speak softly and carry a big stick.”
You don’t have to use that stick. In fact, plan on not using it. But if me carrying a concealed weapon — just like millions of my responsible neighbors in this country — deters someone from attacking my friends and neighbors, maybe that’s worth it. You don’t see terror attacks in this country on areas where there’s lots of armed men and women. Instead, it’s those soft targets that get hit. Maybe it’s time we made sure our enemies, both foreign and domestic, understand that we shoot back.
I’m starting to feel like a soft target. I don’t like feeling like a soft target. And once again, I’m left with this idea that an armed society ends up being a very polite society — and one that’s highly resistant to attack.
Hughes is a Denver-based correspondent for USA TODAY who has covered numerous mass shootings.
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Tuesday, December 22, 2015
Always Be Prepared! Get In the Habit of Constantly Carrying Concealed
Dec 18, 2015 |
On Alien Gear Holsters blog, writer James England makes some fantastic points about building up the habit of always carrying.
This is a habit that should be as essential as drinking water everyday or breathing, because there’s many people out there who have had theirs and their families lives saved by concealed carry and I’m sure they would shake others if they could and implore them to always be prepared.
1. Always carry with a round in the chamber
Carrying with a round in the chamber means you don’t have to second guess yourself in a live-fire emergency. The last thing you want to do is reverse Dirty Harry yourself with, “did I load a round in the chamber or not?”
The other side of this is doing this forces you to do something every gun owner should do: treat every weapon as if it is loaded. Because, in this case, it is..
It comes down the split second preparation, sometimes seconds can determine life and death. Its better to have a higher level of gun safety and awareness with a round in the chamber.
2. Carry your handgun at home
Too many people lock up the handgun when they get home. Ironically, a majority of violent crimes are skewed towards burglaries. Why? People are at their weakest because they’re relaxed. There’s nothing wrong with being relaxed. Relaxation is important. Getting used to carrying your concealed carry handgun around the house can help you to be relaxed with it on you. That way, if you need it, you know it will be there..
‘Nuff said: criminals don’t wait until you’re ready to attack and evil doesn’t take time-outs.
3. Get a comfortable IWB holster.
You want your gun to be an extension of yourself, and you should invest in a holster that is so comfortable it treats your gun like your favorite clothing treats your body. Of course, if a holster is uncomfortable you’re not going to want to wear it and your gun won’t be where it needs to be when you most need it. Having a comfortable, in-the-waistband holster maintains that every day your gun will always be where you need it to be, and reaching for it will become a mental habit.
4. Practice, practice practice
Nothing is better than compounding the practice and knowledge necessary to conceal carry and defend. The more knowledge you learn the more your practice broadens and ultimately the more pinpointed you get at that skill.
5. Make your EDC part of your daily routine.
Everyone has a daily routine. Whether it’s brushing your teeth, taking a shower, and getting the kids ready to get on the school bus or rushing to catch the train, make your concealed carry habit a part of that. Your IWB holster is now as essential as wearing your trousers or your wallet. If you put it on every morning before you leave the house, you’ll find that over time you don’t even notice it as part of your routine. That requires daily consistency..
All these tips will help you get one step closer to always being prepared, and in an everyday, just-in-case sort of way. Your life shouldn’t be filled with any more fear and stress, instead, doing these practices will ensure that natural confidence and reassurance we all could use.
Author: Annie Stonebreaker
Annie is attending North Idaho College for a degree in journalism and is enjoying writing about everything guns for Defend and Carry. She finds our right to bear arms imperative and can get quite spicy on the topic. In her spare time she loves reading, playing outdoors, any water activities, eating sweet treats, eating in general, playing music or spending time with her Fiance, and being surrounded by good friends, conversation and laughter.
Monday, December 21, 2015
Holiday Humor about the Silliness (and Menace) of Gun Control
And let’s not forget the Constitution protects our right to keep and bear arms (at least for those who still think that document means anything).
But I confess that I mostly like using satire and mockery when criticizing gun control. And I’m pleased to report that a friend sent me some very good new material.
So, in the holiday spirit, let’s amuse ourselves by questioning the logic of the anti-2nd Amendment ideologues.
We’ll start with one that has a two-pronged meaning. Because, like satirical images that can be seen here and here, it points out that both gun control and the Drug War are premised on the notion that government can make something disappear simply by making it illegal.
Methinks the person who created this poster isn’t a good speller. But his logic is airtight. Gun control would disarm law-abiding people while leaving the bad guys with all the weapons.
But that’s apparently too difficult to understand for people like Mayor Rahm Emanuel in Chicago (speaking of which, here’s how a statist might try to explainthe different murder rates in pro-gun Houston and anti-gun Chicago).
Our next image makes a very important point that school shootings basically didn’t exist back when there was no gun control.
Even when actual machine guns were fully legal!
The bad news is that anti-gun political correctness has taken over and resulted inpreposterous horror stories in many government schools.
But the good news is that while machine guns are now heavily regulated, at least Americans can still own tanks.
The next two images make the philosophical point that we shouldn’t leave all guns in the hands of government, particularly given some horrible results from the 20th century.
Here’s another one to add to the list.
The gentleman makes a good point. Something definitely isn’t right, which perhaps explains why this poster of pro-gun control dictators is the 4th-most viewed thing I’ve ever written.
P.P.P.S. The image at the bottom of this post makes me proud to be American.
P.P.P.P.S. I’m sure this is an urban legend rather than a real interview, but I always get a laugh from this transcript.
Saturday, December 19, 2015
Gun Control Endangers More Lives Than it Saves
At the Newtown, CT, vigil, Obama said, “if there’s even one step we can take to save another [life] … then surely we have an obligation to try.” The president reiterited this view, nearly verbatim, during the press conference announcing the 23 executive orders, saying, “if there’s even one thing we can do to reduce this violence, if there’s even one life that can be saved, then we’ve got an obligation to try.” Vice President Joe Biden also said during the press conference, “We have a moral obligation to do everything in our power to diminish the prospect that anything like this could happen again.”
This sentiment is often heard from gun control advocates. It’s sloppy – because it seems correct on its face, it doesn’t require you to do any thinking about it. This can be very dangerous. We ought to be thinking very critically about this idea and asking ourselves several tough questions: How many lives will it save – and at what cost? Will this policy endanger lives, and if so will it endanger more lives than it might save?
We ought to compare the potential for lives saved vs. lives endangered, and then weigh the cost we pay in exchange for any benefit or loss.
Endangered lives: the D.C. gun ban
Jeffrey Scott Shapiro, a former Washington, D.C. prosecutor wrote in the Wall Street Journal about the endangered lives and risks, stating: “a nationwide firearms crackdown would place an undue burden on law enforcement and endanger civil liberties while potentially increasing crime.” He would know something about it; as prosecutor, Shapiro enforced firearms and ammunition cases during D.C.’s gun ban. Though he dislikes firearms, he is skeptical of benefits “many imagine will result from additional gun-control efforts” (emphasis added).
Chief among the dangers to the people of D.C. is that the gun ban had unintended consequences. “It emboldened criminals because they knew that law-abiding District residents were unarmed and powerless to defend themselves,” Shapiro continued. He states that violent crime and homicides increased after the law was enacted, with homicides going from 188 in 1976 to 369 in 1988. By 1993, annual homicides reached 454.
Civil liberties were also endangered and police efforts wasted – leaving citizens with less police protection. Legislative changes empowered judges to hold gun suspects in pretrial detention without bond for up to 100 days. There were also efforts to enact curfews and seize automobiles found to contain firearms. Police cracked down on guns, creating a special Gun Recovery Unit in 1995. It was disbanded two years later in 1997 having been found ineffective, so more uniformed officers could be assigned to patrol the streets. Police periodically tried other gun crackdowns over the next decade, all with little effect.
Contrary to gun control advocate worries, after the gun ban was struck down, homicides in the D.C. have steadily gone down, from 186 in 2008 to 88 in 2012 – the lowest number since the law was enacted in 1976.
Kennesaw: To save a life, allow more guns?
Kennesaw, GA is among the safestplacest in the United States. The violent crime rate for Kennesaw in 2010 was lower than the national violent crime rate average by 85.16%, and the city property crime rate in Kennesaw was lower than the national property crime rate average by 46.46%.
This chart shows violent crime over a 10 year period, comparing Kennesaw against the state of Georgia, and the U.S. national violent crime incidents per 100,000 people (to get an accurate apples-to-apples comparison, adjusting for population size).
This chart shows various violent crime offenses for just 2010. Remarkably that year, Kennesaw had zero murder or manslaughter crimes.
What may hold the key to Kennesaw’s secret? In 1982, Kennesaw passed a law requiring“every head of household to maintain a firearm together with ammunition.” After passage of the law, the burglary rate in Kennesaw declined and still today, Kennesaw has the lowest crime rate in Cobb County.
Trampled liberty, endangered lives of average people
They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety. This is a parapharse (with “liberties” added) to what Benjamin Franklin actually said, but regardless I believe it holds true. It certainly has bearing in our quest to answer the question: “How many lives at what cost … to liberty? to other lives?”
Often lost in the debate is that homicide and violent crime in the U.S. are at a 20 year low or longer. (Homicide numbers are actually the lowest on record since at least 1976, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a DoJ agency). Mass shooting homicides have qualitative differences from “plain ol”” homicides that elicit an emotional response from us; that response is valid. However, when all is said and done – for all the media coverage these shootings receive – mass murder accounts for a fraction of 1% of homicides.
How many lives are we talking about saving? And at what cost to our liberty? Some may scoff at the question of “liberty,” but some are quite alarmed at calls to confiscateweapons, as well as calls for a national registry – fearing if not today’s administration, perhaps a future administration could abuse such a list and confiscate citizen’s guns. What cost to liberty will we accept when homicide is the lowest it’s been in decades?
“Lost in the debate is that average people use guns to defend themselves”
Lost in the debate is that average people use guns to defend themselves; that average people are victimized by criminals – sometimes in their own homes – and want the means to defend themselves secured. These stories often don’t make headlines, as most homicides don’t make headlines, but are a part of us nonetheless.
One story that has made headlines involves Melinda Herman, a Georgia mother who shot an intruder while protecting her kids in their own home. Fortunately, she didn’t face more than one attacker as her 6-round revolver was empty after confronting a single attacker. In the Pacific Northwest, a group of masked men, one of which had an AR-15 rifle, tied up a family in their home during a home invasion. This home invasion also involved multiple attackers. The video below shows an average citizen confront a thief with his shotgun (also note this is a solid argument against those who claim “guns only purpose is to kill” – he points his shotgun at the criminal and holds him until the police arrive; no shots fired – no one killed, just an average guy protecting himself and his loved ones their home).
Whether the individual chooses a revolver, a shotgun, or an AR-15 rifle (should there be multiple assailants to defend against) – shouldn’t the law-abiding be able to decide how to defend their lives and their families in their own homes?
The rebuttal is often: “Would you just do nothing? Gun rights advocates never want to budge on any reasonable gun laws.” Of course, every gun control advocate thinks their version of new guns laws are simply “common sense.”
The truth is though, there are many gun rights advocates that do advocate some changes, such as stronger background checks, fully funding NICS (the background check system), stronger prosecution of those who falsify background check forms – which the Justice Department rarely prosecutes, as well as stronger enforcement and prosecution of straw man purchasers and illegal gun trafficking.
Gun rights advocates want safer streets, homes, neighborhoods, and schools too. Many of them have families of their own and want to be able to defend and protect their lives should the police be minutes away when seconds count. They want to put the emphasis on enforcing existing laws, which our government is not doing fully. Washington D.C.’s residents fought a long battle and suffered high crime for many years – as well as restricted liberty. We shouldn’t make the same mistake nationally. Restricting gun rights of average, law abiding folks, puts us all in danger.
Thursday, December 17, 2015
60 Terrorist Plots Since 9/11: Continued Lessons in Domestic Counterterrorism
The Heritage Foundation has tracked post-9/11 terrorist plots against the United States in an effort to study the evolving nature of the threat and to garner lessons learned. The best way to protect the United States from terrorism is to ensure a strong and capable domestic counterterrorism enterprise—and to understand the continuing nature of the terror threat. The Boston Marathon bombing was the 59th publicly known terror plot against the United States since 9/11. In a political environment of sequestration on the one hand, and privacy concerns on the other, there are those on both sides of the aisle who want to cut counterterrorism spending and restrict the scope of U.S. intelligence agencies. But the long war on terrorism is far from over. Most disturbingly, an increasing number of Islamist-inspired terrorist attacks are originating within America’s borders. The rise of homegrown extremism is the next front in the fight against terrorism, and Congress and the Administration must take it seriously. This Special Report features up-to-date information on all 60 plots, and the authors describe a plan for a comprehensive homeland security strategy.
At 2:50 p.m. on April 15, 2013, two explosions went off at the finish line of the Boston Marathon. The brazen terrorist attack killed three people, injured and maimed hundreds more, and shocked the nation. Despite being long recognized as a potential threat by law enforcement and intelligence, few Americans had considered the use of an improvised explosive device (IED) on American soil. And, due to only a few, and relatively small, attacks since 9/11, the public was not in a state of awareness.
Yet, the fact remains that there have been at least 60 Islamist-inspired terrorist plots against the homeland since 9/11, illustrating the continued threat of terrorism against the United States. Fifty-three of these plots were thwarted long before the public was ever in danger, due in large part to the concerted efforts of U.S. law enforcement and intelligence.
The Heritage Foundation has tracked the foiled terrorist plots against the United States since 9/11 in an effort to study the evolving nature of the threat and garner lessons learned. The best way to protect the United States from the continued threat of terrorism is to ensure a strong and capable domestic counterterrorism enterprise—and to understand the continuing nature of the terror threat.
The bombings in Boston are not likely to be the last such attempt to attack the U.S. as a whole. Now is not the time for the U.S. to stand still. Congress and the Administration should:
- Ensure a proactive approach to halting terrorism,
- Maintain essential counterterrorism tools,
- Break down silos of information,
- Streamline the domestic counterterrorism system, and
- Fully implement a strategy to counter violent extremism
60 Terrorist Plots Since 9/11
In 2007, The Heritage Foundation began tracking post-9/11terrorist plots against the United States. Heritage continuously refines and updates the available information, and in light of the Boston Marathon bombing, is now including not only thwarted plots, but those that have been successful.
In 2012, Heritage reported that at least 50 publicly known, Islamist-inspired terrorist plots against the homeland had been thwarted since September 11, 2001. The reality, of course, is that no matter how good a nation’s security and intelligence agencies are, they cannot prevent 100 percent of planned attacks. While there has not been a catastrophe on the scale of 9/11 in the past 12 years, terrorists have succeeded in attacking the homeland four times: (1) the intentional driving of an SUV into a crowd of students at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill in 2006; (2) the shooting at an army recruitment office in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 2009; (3) the shooting by U.S. Army Major Nidal Hasan at Fort Hood, also in 2009; and (4) the bombings in Boston.
Of the 60 plots, 49 could be considered homegrown terror plots. This means that one or more of the actors were American citizens, legal permanent residents, or visitors radicalized predominately in the United States.
In each of these plots, the number one target was military facilities, followed closely by targets in New York City. The third most common target was mass gatherings, like the Boston Marathon, nightclubs and bars, and shopping malls.
While four plots were successful, and three foiled merely by luck or the swift action of private citizens, the rest were thwarted in their early stages by U.S., and sometimes international, law enforcement.
1. Richard Reid—December 2001.A British citizen and self-professed follower of Osama bin Laden who trained in Afghanistan, Richard Reid hid explosives inside his shoes before boarding a flight from Paris to Miami on which he attempted to light the fuse with a match. Reid was caught in the act and apprehended aboard the plane by passengers and flight attendants. FBI officials took Reid into custody after the plane made an emergency landing at Boston’s Logan International Airport.
In 2003, Reid was found guilty on charges of terrorism, and a U.S. federal court sentenced him to life in prison. He is currently incarcerated at a federal maximum-security prison in Colorado.
Saajid Badat, a supporter to Reid, has been sentenced to 13 years in jail for planning to blow up a passenger plane. The 26-year-old, a religious teacher from Gloucester, England, was sentenced after he admitted conspiring with fellow Briton Reid. Badat pleaded guilty in February 2005 to the plot to blow up the transatlantic flight on its way to the U.S. in 2001.
2. Jose Padilla—May 2002. U.S. officials arrested Jose Padilla in May 2002 at Chicago’s O’Hare airport as he returned to the United States from Pakistan, where he met with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and received al-Qaeda training and instructions. Upon his arrest, he was initially charged as an enemy combatant, and for planning to use a dirty bomb (an explosive laced with radioactive material) in an attack in the U.S.
Along with Padilla, Adham Amin Hassoun and Kifah Wael Jayyousi were convicted in August 2007 of terrorism conspiracy and material support. It was found that the men supported cells that sent recruits, money, and supplies to Islamic extremists worldwide, including al-Qaeda members. Hassoun was the recruiter and Jayyousi served as a financier and propagandist in the cell. Before his conviction, Padilla had brought a case against the federal government claiming that he had been denied the right of habeas corpus (the right of an individual to petition his unlawful imprisonment). In a five-to-four decision, the U.S. Supreme Court found that the case against him had been filed improperly. In 2005, the government indicted Padilla for conspiring against the U.S. with Islamic terrorist groups.
In August 2007, Padilla was found guilty by a civilian jury after a three-month trial. He was later sentenced by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida to 17 years and four months in prison.In September 2011, an appellate court ruling deemed Padilla’s original sentence to be too lenient. In 2012, Padilla was moved from a federal supermax prison in Florence, Colorado, to the federal detention center in Miami while awaiting resentencing.Additionally, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has filed a complaint on behalf of Padilla alleging that being named an enemy combatant was a violation of his rights, and that he was subjected to torture during interrogation nearly a decade ago. His current release date is set for January 4, 2022.
3. Lackawanna Six—September 2002. When the FBI arrested Sahim Alwan, Yahya Goba, Yasein Taher, Faysal Galab, Shafal Mosed, and Mukhtar al-Bakri in Upstate New York, the press dubbed them the “Lackawanna Six,” the “Buffalo Six,” and the “Buffalo Cell.” Five of the six had been born and raised in Lackawanna, New York. All six are American citizens of Yemeni descent, and stated that they were going to Pakistan to attend a religious camp, but attended an al-Qaeda training camp in Afghanistan instead. The six men pleaded guilty in 2003to providing support to al-Qaeda. Goba and al-Bakri were sentenced to 10 years in prison, Taher and Mosed to eight years, Alwan to nine and a half years, and Galab to seven years. Goba’s sentence was later reduced to nine years after he, Alwan, and Taher testified at a Guantanamo Bay military tribunal in the case against Osama bin Laden’s chief propagandist, Ali Hamza al-Bahlul. All the men have served their jail sentences and are now living freely in western New York.
Recent reports indicate that Jaber Elbaneh, one of the FBI’s most wanted and often considered to be a seventh member of the Lackawanna cell, has been captured in Yemen. It remains to be seen whether he will be tried in the U.S., since the U.S. does not have an extradition treaty with Yemen.
4. Uzair and Saifullah Paracha—March 2003. Uzair Paracha, a Pakistani citizen with permanent residency status in the U.S., was arrested in March 2003 and charged with five counts of providing material and financial support to al-Qaeda. Uzair attempted to help another Pakistani, Majid Khan, an al-Qaeda operative, gain access to the United States via immigration fraud. Khan is said to have been in contact with 9/11 mastermind Khalid Sheik Mohammed and planned to bomb underground storage tanks at Maryland gas stations. Uzair was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison.
Saifullah Paracha, Uzair’s father, a 64-year-old citizen of Pakistan and resident alien of the U.S., is currently being held at Guantanamo Bay awaiting trial. Paracha was arrested in Bangkok, Thailand, on July 8, 2003, through the efforts of the FBI and information provided by his son. He is believed to have had close ties to Khalid Sheik Mohammed, and Mohammed’s nephew Ammar al-Baluchi. Saifullah is said to have used his international business connections to help al-Qaeda procure chemical and biological explosives and assist in their shipment to the U.S., along with the shipment of ready-made explosives.
5. Iyman Faris—May 2003. Iyman Faris is a naturalized U.S. citizen, originally from Kashmir, who was living in Columbus, Ohio. He was arrested for conspiring to use blowtorches to collapse the Brooklyn Bridge, a plot devised after meetings with al-Qaeda leadership, including Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. The New York City Police Department learned of the plot and increased police surveillance around the bridge. Faced with the additional security, Faris and his superiors called off the attack.
Faris pleaded guilty to conspiracy and providing material support to al-Qaeda and was later sentenced in federal district court to 20 years in prison, the maximum allowed under his plea agreement.
6. Ahmed Omar Abu Ali—June 2003. Ahmed Omar Abu Ali is an American citizen of Jordanian descent who was arrested in Saudi Arabia on charges that he conspired to kill President George W. Bush, hijack airplanes, and provide support to al-Qaeda. He was arrested while attending Medina University in Saudi Arabia, where he had joined an al-Qaeda cell. His plans, according to authorities, were to kill President Bush and then establish an al-Qaeda cell in the United States, with himself as the head. He was convicted by an American court on November 22, 2005, and sentenced to life in prison on July 27, 2009, overturning a 2006 sentence of 30 years that was ruled to be too lenient.
7. Virginia Jihad Network—June 2003. Eleven men were arrested in Alexandria, Virginia, for weapons counts and for violating the Neutrality Acts, which prohibit U.S. citizens and residents from attacking countries with which the United States is at peace. Four of the 11 men pleaded guilty. Upon further investigation, the remaining seven were indicted on additional charges of conspiring to support terrorist organizations. They were found to have connections with al-Qaeda, the Taliban, and Lashkar-e-Tayyiba, a terrorist organization that targets the Indian government. The authorities stated that the Virginia men had used paintball games to train and prepare for battle. The group had also acquired surveillance and night vision equipment and wireless video cameras. Two more men were later indicted in the plot: Ali al-Timimi, the group’s spiritual leader, and Ali Asad Chandia.
Ali al-Timimi was found guilty of soliciting individuals to assault the United States and was sentenced to life in prison. Ali Asad Chandia received 15 years for supporting Lashkar-e-Tayyiba. Randall Todd Royer, Ibrahim al-Hamdi, Yong Ki Kwon, Khwaja Mahmood Hasan, Muhammed Aatique, and Donald T. Surratt pleaded guilty and were sentenced to prison terms ranging from three years and 10 months to 20 years. Masoud Khan, Seifullah Chapman, and Hammad Abdur-Raheem were found guilty and later sentenced to prison terms ranging from 52 months to life. Both Caliph Basha Ibn Abdur-Raheem and Sabri Benkhala were acquitted at trial.
8. Nuradin M. Abdi—November 2003. Nuradin M. Abdi, a Somali citizen living in Columbus, Ohio, was arrested and charged in a plot to bomb a local shopping mall. Abdi was an associate of convicted terrorists Christopher Paul and Iyman Faris and admitted to conspiring with the two to provide material support to terrorists. Following his arrest, Abdi admitted to traveling overseas to seek admittance to terrorist training camps, as well as meeting with a Somali warlord associated with Islamists.
Abdi has since pleaded guilty to conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, one of the four counts for which he was indicted. He was subsequently sentenced to 10 years in jail per the terms of a plea agreement.After being released from prison, Abdi was deported to his home country of Somalia in 2012.
9. Dhiren Barot—August 2004.Seven members of a terrorist cell led by Dhiren Barot were arrested for plotting to attack the New York Stock Exchange and other financial institutions in New York, Washington, D.C., and Newark, New Jersey. They were later accused of planning attacks in England. The plots included a “memorable black day of terror” that would have included detonating a dirty bomb. A July 2004 police raid on Barot’s house in Pakistan yielded a number of incriminating files on a laptop computer, including instructions for building car bombs.
Barot pleaded guilty and was convicted in the United Kingdom for conspiracy to commit mass murder and sentenced to 40 years. However, in May 2007, his sentence was reduced to 30 years. His seven co-conspirators were sentenced to terms ranging from 15 to 26 years on related charges of conspiracy to commit murder and conspiracy to cause explosion.
10. James Elshafay and Shahawar Matin Siraj—August 2004. James Elshafay and Shahawar Matin Siraj, both reportedly self-radicalized, were arrested for plotting to bomb a subway station near Madison Square Garden in New York City before the Republican National Convention. An undercover detective from the New York City Police Department’s Intelligence Division infiltrated the group, providing information to authorities, and later testified against Elshafay and Siraj.
Siraj was convicted and sentenced to 30 years in prison. Elshafay, a U.S. citizen, pleaded guilty and received a lighter, five-year sentence for testifying against his co-conspirator.
11. Yassin Aref and Mohammad Hossain—August 2004. Two leaders of a mosque in Albany, New York, were charged with plotting to purchase a shoulder-fired grenade launcher to assassinate a Pakistani diplomat. An investigation by the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, and local police contributed to the arrest. With the help of an informant, the FBI set up a sting that lured Mohammad Hossain into a fake terrorist conspiracy. Hossain brought Yassin Aref, a Kurdish refugee, as a witness. The informant offered details of a fake terrorist plot, claiming that he needed the missiles to murder a Pakistani diplomat in New York City. Both Aref and Hossain agreed to help.
Aref and Hossain were found guilty of money laundering and conspiracy to conceal material support for terrorism and were sentenced to 15 years in prison.
12. Hamid Hayat—June 2005.Hamid Hayat, a Pakistani immigrant, was arrested in Lodi, California, after allegedly lying to the FBI about his attendance at an Islamic terrorist training camp in Pakistan.
Hamid was found guilty of providing himself as “material support” to terrorists and three counts of providing false statements to the FBI. In interviews with the FBI, he stated (correctly) that he specifically requested to come to the United States after receiving training in order to carry out jihad. He was sentenced to 24 years in prison. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld Hamid’s conviction in a split decision. However, his lawyers continue to pursue his appeal.
13. Levar Haley Washington, Gregory Vernon Patterson, Hammad Riaz Samana, and Kevin James—August 2005. The members of the group were arrested in Los Angeles and charged with conspiring to attack National Guard facilities, synagogues, and other targets in the Los Angeles area. Kevin James allegedly founded Jamiyyat ul-Islam Is-Saheeh (JIS), a radical Islamic prison group, and converted Levar Washington and others to the group’s mission. The JIS allegedly planned to finance its operations by robbing gas stations. After Washington and Patterson were arrested for robbery, police and federal agents began a terrorist investigation, and a search of Washington’s apartment revealed a target list.
James and Washington pleaded guilty in December 2007. James was sentenced to 16 years in prison and Washington to 22 years. Patterson received 151 months, while Samana was found unfit to stand trial and was initially detained in a federal prison mental facility. He was later sentenced to 70 months in jail.
14. Michael C. Reynolds—December 2005. Michael C. Reynolds was arrested by the FBI and charged with involvement in a plot to blow up a Wyoming natural gas refinery; the Transcontinental Pipeline, a natural-gas pipeline from the Gulf Coast to New York and New Jersey; and a Standard Oil refinery in New Jersey.He was arrested while trying to pick up a $40,000 payment for planning the attack.Shannen Rossmiller, his purported contact, was a Montana judge and private citizen working with the FBI. Rossmiller posed as a jihadist, tricking Reynolds into revealing his plan. The FBI later found explosives in a storage locker in Reynolds’s hometown of Wilkes–Barre, Pennsylvania.Reynolds claimed that he was doing much the same as Rossmiller, and was working as a private citizen to find terrorists.
Reynolds was convicted of providing material support to terrorists, soliciting a crime of violence, unlawful distribution of explosives, and unlawful possession of a hand grenade. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison.
15. Mohammad Zaki Amawi, Marwan Othman El-Hindi, and Zand Wassim Mazloum—February 2006. Amawi, El-Hindi, and Mazloum were arrested in Toledo, Ohio, for conspiring to kill people outside the United States, including U.S. Armed Forces personnel serving in Iraq.The men also conspired to train and arm for a violent jihad against the United States, both domestically and abroad.Training involved use of materials including those found on secure and exclusive jihadist websites, downloaded and copied training videos, and materials for jihad training sessions. The men also were found to have provided material support to terrorist organizations and to have verbally threatened attacks on President George W. Bush.The investigation was begun with the help of an informant who was approached to help train the group.
In June 2008, the three men were convicted of conspiring to commit acts of terrorism against Americans overseas, including U.S. military personnel in Iraq, and other terrorism-related violations. Amawi was sentenced to 20 years, El-Hindi to 13 years, and Mazloum to approximately eight years.
16. Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar—March 2006. Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar, a 22-year-old Iranian native, drove his SUV into a crowd of students at the University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill, injuring six people on March 3, 2006. The reasoning, he stated, behind the attack was retribution for the treatment of Muslims around the world. Taheri-azar called police shortly after the incident, and turned himself over to authorities a few miles from his hit-and-run. Taheri-azar was sentenced to a prison term of at least 26 years and two months, after pleading guilty in 2008to nine counts of attempted first-degree murder.
17. Syed Haris Ahmed and Ehsanul Islam Sadequee—April 2006. Ahmed and Sadequee, from Atlanta, Georgia, were accused of conspiracy, having discussed terrorist targets with alleged terrorist organizations. They allegedly met with Islamic extremists in the U.S. and gathered video surveillance of potential targets in the Washington, D.C., area, including the U.S. Capitol and the World Bank headquarters, and sent the videos to a London Islamist group. Ahmed is said also to have traveled to Pakistan with the goal of joining Lashkar-e-Tayyiba.
Both men were indicted for providing material support to terrorist organizations and pleaded not guilty. In June 2009, a federal district judge found Ahmed “guilty of conspiring to provide material support to terrorists here and overseas.”Ahmed was subsequently sentenced to 13 years in jail. Sadequee was also found guilty and sentenced to 17 years.
18. Narseal Batiste, Patrick Abraham, Stanley Grant Phanor, Naudimar Herrera, Burson Augustin, Lyglenson Lemorin, and Rotschild Augustine—June 2006.Seven men were arrested in Miami and Atlanta for plotting to blow up the Sears Tower in Chicago, FBI offices, and other government buildings around the country. The arrests resulted from an investigation involving an FBI informant. Allegedly, Batiste was the leader of the group and first suggested attacking the Sears Tower in December 2005.
All of the suspects pleaded not guilty. On December 13, 2007, Lemorin was acquitted of all charges, but the jury failed to reach a verdict on the other six.The second trial ended in a mistrial in April 2008.In the third trial, the jury convicted five of the men on multiple conspiracy charges and acquitted Herrera on all counts. On November 20, 2009, the five were sentenced to prison terms ranging from six to 13.5 years, with Batiste receiving the longest sentence.
19. Assem Hammoud—July 2006. Conducting online surveillance of chat rooms, the FBI discovered a plot to attack underground transit links between New York City and New Jersey. Eight suspects, including Assem Hammoud, an al-Qaeda loyalist living in Lebanon, were identified for plotting to bomb New York City train tunnels. Hammoud, a self-proclaimed operative for al-Qaeda, admitted to the plot. He was held by Lebanese authorities but was not extradited because the U.S. does not have an extradition treaty with Lebanon. In June 2008, Lebanese authorities released him on bail. In February 2012, Hammoud was convicted in a Lebanese court. He was sentenced to two years in prison, which he had already served.
20. Liquid Explosives Plot—August 2006. British law enforcement stopped a terrorist plot to blow up 10 U.S.-bound commercial airliners with liquid explosives. Twenty-four suspects were arrested in the London area. The style of the plot raised speculation that al-Qaeda was behind it, but no concrete evidence has established a link.
The United Kingdom initially indicted 15 of the 24 arrested individuals on charges ranging from conspiring to commit murder to planning to commit terrorist acts. Eventually, in April 2008, only eight men were brought to trial. In September, the jury found none of the defendants guilty of conspiring to target aircraft, but three guilty of conspiracy to commit murder.The jury was unable to reach verdicts on four of the men. One man was found not guilty on all counts.
21. Derrick Shareef—December 2006. Derrick Shareef was arrested on charges of planning to set off hand grenades in a shopping mall in Rockford, Illinois, outside Chicago. Shareef reportedly acted alone and was arrested after meeting with an undercover Joint Terrorism Task Force agent. FBI reports indicated that the mall was one of several potential targets, including courthouses, city halls, and government facilities. Shareef, however, settled on attacking a mall in the days immediately preceding Christmas because he believed it would cause the greatest amount of chaos and damage. Shareef, who was also found to have connections to convicted terrorist Hassan Abujihaad, was charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, and after pleading guilty, was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
22. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed—March 2007. Khalid Sheikh Mohammed, captured in Pakistan in 2003, was involved in a number of terrorist plots and is one of the most senior bin Laden operatives ever captured. He is being held at the U.S. military detention facility in Guantanamo Bay. In March 2007, Mohammed admitted to helping plan, organize, and run the 9/11 attacks. He also claimed responsibility for planning the 1993bombing of the World Trade Center and the 2002 bombings of nightclubs in Bali and a Kenyan hotel. He has stated that he was involved in the decapitation of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl and took responsibility for helping to plan the failed shoe-bomb attack by Richard Reid, along with plots to attack Heathrow Airport, Canary Wharf, Big Ben, various targets in Israel, the Panama Canal, Los Angeles, Chicago, the Empire State building, and U.S. nuclear power stations. He had also plotted to assassinate Pope John Paul II and former President Bill Clinton.
In December 2008, Mohammed and his four co-defendants (Ramzi Binalshibh, Mustafa Ahmad al-Hawsawi, Ali Abd al-Aziz Ali, and Walid Bin Attash) told the military tribunal judge that they wanted to confess and pleaded guilty to all charges. The judge has approved the guilty plea of Mohammed and two co-defendants but has required mental competency hearings before allowing the other two conspirators to plead guilty. In November 2009, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder announced that Mohammed would be relocated to the United States to face a civilian trial in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. That decision has now been reversed and the Administration announced that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and the other Guantanamo Bay detainees would be prosecuted in military tribunals at Guantanamo. The date for the arraignment of Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and his co-defendants was set for May 5, 2012, with pre-trial motion hearings beginning in October 2012 and continuing in January 2013.
23. Fort Dix Plot—May 2007. Six men were arrested in a plot to attack Fort Dix, a U.S. Army post in New Jersey. The plan involved using assault rifles and grenades to attack and kill U.S. soldiers. Five of the alleged conspirators had conducted training missions in the nearby Pocono Mountains. The sixth helped to obtain weapons. The arrests were made after a 16-month FBI operation that included infiltrating the group. The investigation began after a store clerk alerted authorities after discovering a video file of the group firing weapons and calling for jihad. The group has no known direct connections to any international terrorist organization.
In December 2008, five of the men were found guilty on conspiracy charges but were acquitted of charges of attempted murder.Four were also convicted on weapons charges. The five men received sentences ranging from 33 years to life plus 30 years. The sixth co-defendant pleaded guilty to aiding and abetting the others in illegal possession of weapons and was sentenced to 20 months in jail.
24. JFK Airport Plot—June 2007.Four men plotted to blow up “aviation fuel tanks and pipelines at the John F. Kennedy International Airport” in New York City. They believed that such an attack would cause “greater destruction than in the Sept. 11 attacks.” Authorities stated that the attack “could have caused significant financial and psychological damage, but not major loss of life.”
Russell Defreitas, the leader of the group, was arrested in Brooklyn. The other three members of the group—Abdul Kadir, Kareem Ibrahim, and Abdel Nur—were detained in Trinidad and extradited in June 2008. Kadir and Nur have links to Islamic extremists in South America and the Caribbean. Kadir was an imam in Guyana, a former member of the Guyanese Parliament, and mayor of Linden, Guyana. Ibrahim is a Trinidadian citizen and Nur is a Guyanese citizen.
In 2010, Kadir was found guilty on five counts and sentenced to life in prison. In February, both Defreitas and Nur were also found guilty. Defreitas was sentenced to life in prison, while Nur was sentenced to 15 years. The final conspirator, Kareem Ibrahim, was convicted in May 2011 and has been sentenced to life in prison. In June of 2013 a U.S. Court of Appeals upheld the convictions for both Defreitas and Kadir and stated that due to the “gravity of the crimes for which they were convicted” the life sentences were also justified.
25. Hassan Abujihaad—March 2008. Hassan Abujihaad, a former U.S. Navy sailor from Phoenix, Arizona, was convicted of supporting terrorism and disclosing classified information, including the location of Navy ships and their vulnerabilities, to Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan, the alleged administrators of Azzam Publication websites (the London organization that provided material support and resources to terrorists). Abujihaad was arrested in March 2007 and pleaded not guilty to charges of supporting terrorism in April 2007. In May 2008, he was convicted by a jury and sentenced to 10 years in prison. In 2010, his conviction was upheld in a federal court of appeals. Both Babar Ahmad and Syed Talha Ahsan are being held in Britain on anti-terrorism charges and are fighting extradition to the U.S.
26. Christopher Paul—June 2008.Christopher Paul is a U.S. citizen from Columbus, Ohio. He joined al-Qaeda in the 1990s and was involved in conspiracies to target Americans in the United States and overseas. In 1999, he became connected to an Islamic terrorist cell in Germany, where he was involved in a plot to target Americans at foreign vacation resorts. He later returned to Ohio and was subsequently arrested for conspiracy to use a weapon of mass destruction—specifically, explosive devices—“against targets in Europe and the United States.” Paul pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced to 20 years in prison.
27. Bryant Neal Vinas—November 2008. Bryant Neal Vinas is an American citizen of Hispanic descent who converted to Islam in 2004. In 2007, Vinas left home telling his parents he wanted to study Islam and Arabic. He then traveled to Pakistan where he was trained by and joined the Taliban. During his time in Pakistan, Vinas assisted with unsuccessful attacks on American forces and provided al-Qaeda with extensive information regarding the Long Island Rail Road for a potential attack. He was arrested by Pakistani forces and sent back to the United States, where he pleaded guilty and began cooperating with authorities. He is currently in the custody of the U.S. Marshals and is awaiting sentencing.
28. Synagogue Terror Plot—May 2009. On May 20, 2009, the New York Police Department announced the arrest of James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams, and Laguerre Payen for plotting to blow up New York-area Jewish centers and shoot down planes at a nearby Air National Guard Base. The four had attempted to gain access to Stinger missiles and were caught in the act of placing bombs in the buildings and in a car. (The bombs were duds, because undercover agents sold the four defendants fake explosives as part of an ongoing sting operation). All four men were found guilty. In June 2011, James Cromitie, David Williams, and Onta Williams were sentenced to 25 years in prison. In September 2011, Laguerre Payen received the same sentence.
29. Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad—June 2009. On June 1, 2009, Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, formerly known as Carlos Bledsoe, walked up to an army recruitment office in Little Rock, Arkansas, and opened fire, killing one soldier and wounding another. Born in Tennessee, the 23-year-old Muslim convert is among a growing group of self-radicalized homegrown terrorists that have emerged in the U.S. in recent years. Muhammad’s reported motivation for the attack was his anger about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and what he viewed as U.S. military abuse towards Muslims worldwide.Muhammad had been under preliminary investigation by the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force for a trip he made to Yemen prior to the attack.
In July 2011, Muhammad pleaded guilty under a plea deal to avoid the death penalty, and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.
30. Raleigh Jihad Group—July 2009. A group of seven men in North Carolina were arrested on charges of conspiring to support terrorist groups abroad, engage in terror attacks abroad and plotting an attack on the U.S. Marine base at Quantico, Virginia.Their ringleader, Daniel Patrick Boyd, is believed to have a long association with radical groups, dating from his time living in Pakistan. In Pakistan, he is believed to have been an active member of Hezb-e-Islami (Party of Islam). The Raleigh group also raised funds and trained extensively in preparation to wage attacks both at home and abroad. Boyd pleaded guilty on February 9, 2011, to conspiring to provide material support to terrorists and conspiring to murder, kidnap, maim, and injure persons abroad. He was sentenced to 216 months in prison, followed by five years supervised release, and a $3,000 fine. Prosecutors noted that Boyd cooperated with the government and testified against several of his co-conspirators who were convicted in October 2011.
31. Najibullah Zazi—September 2009. Najibullah Zazi, a 24-year-old Afghan, was arrested after purchasing large quantities of chemicals used to make a TATP bomb, the same type of weapon used in the 2005 bombing of the London Underground and the 2001 shoe-bomb plot. Zazi had traveled to Pakistan, where he received instruction in bomb making and attended an al-Qaeda training camp. Zazi allegedly planned to detonate TATP bombs on the New York City subway.It has since been found that the plot was directed by senior al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan.
Najibullah Zazi’s father, Mohammed Wali Zazi, was also indicted for obstructing justice, witness tampering, and lying to the FBI in attempts to help his son cover up plans for his attack. A cousin of Zazi, Amanullah Zazi, also publicly admitted that he played a role in Zazi’s 2009 plot. Amanullah pleaded guilty in secret and agreed to become a government witness in federal court in Brooklyn against Najibullah’s father. The father has since been found guilty and sentenced to four and a half years in prison. Najibullah Zazi pleaded guilty, as the result of a plea bargain, and remains in jail. He is currently awaiting sentencing.
At least three other individuals have since been arrested on allegations of conspiring to carry out the attack with Zazi. One of them, New York religious leader Ahmad Afzali, has pleaded guilty to charges of lying to federal agents about informing Zazi that he was being investigated by authorities. As part of a plea deal, Afzali was sentenced to time served and ordered to leave the country within 90 days. A second man, Zarein Ahmedzay has also pleaded guilty to conspiring to use weapons of mass destruction in the foiled plot and lying to investigators. Adis Medunjanin, a former Queens, New York, resident, has recently been sentenced to serve life in the Florence, Colorado, maximum security prison. The notorious jail is reserved for the worst of the worst, and houses terrorists such as Zacarias Moussaoui and Ted Kaczynski.Ahmedzay and Medunjanin are thought to have traveled to Pakistan with Zazi, and to have met with wanted al-Qaeda operative Adnan Gulshair el Shukrijumah, who has also been charged in the plot.A fourth individual, Abid Nasser, has also been implicated in the plot led by Zazi, as well as other plots in England and Norway. He is currently in the United Kingdom facing extradition to the United States.Also charged in the plot are Tariq Ur Rehman and a fifth defendant known as “Ahmad,” “Sohaib,” or “Zahid.” Both el Shukrijumah and Rehman are not in custody.
32. Maher Husein Smadi—September 2009. Smadi, a 19-year-old Jordanian, was apprehended in an attempt to plant a bomb in a Dallas skyscraper. Originally identified through FBI monitoring of extremist chat rooms, Smadi was arrested and charged after agents posing as terrorist cell members gave Smadi a fake bomb, which he later attempted to detonate. Smadi was found guilty and sentenced to 24 years in prison.
33. Michael Finton—September 2009. Michael Finton, an American citizen, was arrested on September 23, 2009, by undercover FBI agents after attempting to detonate a car bomb filled with what he believed to be close to one ton of explosives outside the Paul Findley Federal Building and Courthouse in downtown Springfield, Illinois. The blast was also intended to destroy the nearby office of Representative Aaron Schock (R–IL).Evidence presented against Finton has shown that he expressed a desire to become a jihadist fighter and was aware that his planned attack would cause civilian injuries. He has been arrested on charges of attempted murder of federal employees and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. Finton pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 28 years in prison.
34. Tarek Mehanna and Ahmad Abousamra—October 2009. Tarek Mehanna, previously indicted for lying to the FBI about the location of terrorist suspect Daniel Maldonado, was arrested on October 21, 2009, on allegations of conspiracy to kill two U.S. politicians, American troops in Iraq, and civilians in local shopping malls, as well as conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization.Mehanna and Ahmad Abousamra, his co-conspirator, were indicted on charges of providing and conspiring to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill Americans in a foreign country, and conspiracy to provide false information to law enforcement.
The two men are not believed to be associated with any known terrorist organization. Mehanna pleaded not guilty to charges against him and has since been convicted. He is serving 17 and a half years in federal prison.Abousamra remains at large in Syria. The FBI is currently offering a $50,000 reward for information leading to his capture.
35. Major Nidal Malik Hasan—November 2009. On November 5, 2009, a U.S. Army psychiatrist opened fire at a military processing center at Fort Hood, Texas, killing 13people and wounding 32 others. During the attack, Major Hasan was reported to have shouted, “Allahu Akbar!” Moreover, his actions were apparently motivated by Yemeni al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki, who was killed in a CIA drone strike in September of 2011. Despite the evidence that the Fort Hood massacre was a terrorist attack, the U.S. government has labeled the incident “workplace violence.”
Major Hasan was severely wounded in the attack, but survived, and is now facing pre-meditated murder and attempted murder charges, which makes him eligible for the death penalty.The formal trial has been delayed because Major Hasan was granted a request to represent himself at trial. A judge recently rejected Major Hasan’s “defense of others” strategy, which would have required him to prove that he acted to prevent immediate harm to others, in this case, to Taliban fighters.
36. The Christmas Day Bomber—December 2009. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a 23-year-old Nigerian engineering student living in London, boarded a plane from Nigeria to Amsterdam and then flew from Amsterdam to the U.S. It was on this second flight when he attempted to detonate a bomb hidden in his underwear as the plane began to land. The device ignited but did not detonate, and passengers quickly stopped Abdulmutallab from trying again, leading to his arrest by U.S. authorities upon landing in Detroit. The bomb, containing the explosives PETN and TATP, was similar to the failed device used by Richard Reid in his shoe in 2001.
Media accounts following the plot indicate that Abdulmutallab admits involvement with al-Qaeda in Yemen and pleaded not guilty to charges including conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.In February 2012, Adulmutallab was sentenced to life in prison following his conviction.
37. Raja Lahrasib Khan—March 2010. Chicago taxi driver Raja Lahrasib Khan, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan, was arrested by the Chicago FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force on two counts of providing material support to a foreign terrorist organization. According to the charges, Khan was affiliated with Ilyas Kashmiri, leader of the al-Qaeda-linked extremist group Harakat ul-Jihad-I-Islami in Kashmir, and has previously been indicted in the U.S. on terrorism charges.
Khan originally transferred $950 to Pakistan, to be delivered to Kashmiri, and later attempted to send around $1,000 provided to him by an undercover agent. Khan attempted to use his son to carry the second pot of money to England, where he planned to rendezvous with his son and carry the money the rest of the way to Pakistan. Khan’s son was stopped by government agents at Chicago’s O’Hare airport before leaving the country. The criminal complaint filed against Khan also alleges that he had discussed plans to bomb an unnamed sports stadium in the United States.
Khan has since pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization as part of a plea deal. He was sentenced in 2012 to seven and a half years in prison.
38. Faisal Shahzad—May 2010. Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized citizen from Pakistan, attempted to detonate explosives in an SUV parked in Times Square. After explosives training in Pakistan, he is said to have received $12,000 from entities affiliated with the terrorist organization Tehrik-e-Taliban to fund the attack. Following the failed bombing attempt, Shahzad attempted to flee the country to Dubai, but was arrested before the flight was able to leave New York’s JFK airport.
Shahzad pleaded guilty to 10 counts, including conspiracy to commit an act of terrorism and to use a weapon of mass destruction. He was sentenced to life in prison and is being held at the same Colorado maximum-security prison as Richard Reid and Jose Padilla.
39. Paul G. Rockwood Jr. and Nadia Piroska Maria Rockwood—July 2010. Paul G. Rockwood Jr., an American citizen, became an adherent of Anwar al-Awlaki’s ideology of violent jihad after converting to Islam. In studying al-Awlaki’s teachings, Rockwood came to believe it was his religious responsibility to seek revenge against anyone who defiled Islam. He created a list of 15 individuals to be targeted for assassination, including several members of the U.S. military. Rockwood is said to have researched explosive techniques and discussed the possibility of killing his targets with a gunshot to the head or through mail bombs. Nadia Piroska Maria Rockwood, Paul’s wife, knowingly transported the list to Anchorage, Alaska, to share with an unnamed individual who apparently shared Rockwood’s ideology. The list then made it into the hands of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force in Anchorage.
Paul was charged with making false statements to the FBI in a domestic terrorism charge, while Nadia was charged with making false statements to the FBI in connection to the case against her husband. Paul was sentenced to eight years in prison, while his wife was sentenced to five years probation.
40. Farooque Ahmed—October 2010. Pakistani-American Farooque Ahmed was arrested following an FBI investigation into plots to attack the Washington, D.C., subway. Ahmed is said to have conducted surveillance on the D.C. Metrorail system on multiple occasions, and was in contact with undercover FBI agents whom he believed to be individuals affiliated with al-Qaeda. According to an unsealed affidavit, Ahmed wanted to receive terrorist training overseas and become a martyr. The affidavit also indicates that he sought to specifically target military personnel in his bombing attempt.
Ahmed pleaded guilty to charges of material support and collecting information for a terrorist attack on a transit facility. He was then immediately sentenced to 23 years in prison and 50 years of probation.
41. Air Cargo Bomb Plot—October 2010. Two packages shipped from Yemen to Chicago-area synagogues were discovered to contain explosive materials of the same type used by Richard Reid and Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab in previously thwarted bombing attempts. The packages contained printer cartridges filled with the explosive material and were identified with the help of intelligence tips from Saudi Arabian authorities while in transit on cargo planes in the United Kingdom and Dubai. While no arrests have been made, the Yemen-based Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) has claimed responsibility for the failed attack.
42. Mohamed Osman Mohamud—November 2010. Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a 19-year-old Somali-American, was arrested after attempting to detonate a car bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Oregon. The bomb was composed of inert explosives given to him by undercover FBI agents. Mohamud had previously sought to travel overseas to obtain training in violent jihad. Having failed in that attempt, he wanted to commit an attack that would cause mass casualties to individuals and their families. Mohamud pleaded not guilty to the charges and was found guilty on January 31, 2013, of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. Mohamud is scheduled to be sentenced on September 6, 2013. His lawyers have already promised to appeal the verdict.
43. Antonio Martinez—December 2010. Antonio Martinez, a 21-year-old American citizen also known as Muhammad Hussain, planned to bomb a military recruiting center in Maryland. The FBI learned of the plot from an unnamed informant. Martinez was arrested after attempting to detonate a fake explosive device supplied by FBI agents. He was charged with attempted murder of federal officers and employees, as well as attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.In April 2012, a U.S. District Judge sentenced Martinez to 25 years in prison followed by five years of supervised release.
44. Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari—February 2011. Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, a Saudi citizen studying in Lubbock, Texas, was arrested by the FBI after placing an order for the toxic chemical phenol. Both the chemical supplier and the freight shipping company became suspicious of the order, which could be used to make an improvised explosive device (IED), and alerted the FBI and local police. Surveillance of Aldawsari’s e-mail turned up a list of potential “nice targets” including dams, nuclear power plants, military targets, a nightclub, and the Dallas residence of former President George W. Bush. The search also recovered plans to acquire a forged U.S. birth certificate and multiple driver’s licenses. Aldawsari seems to have considered using these documents to obtain rental cars for use in vehicle bombings.
After pleading not guilty, Aldawsari was convicted of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and sentenced to life in prison on November 13, 2012, by a U.S. District Judge. Attorneys for Aldawsari are currently appealing the case on grounds that evidence discovered in his apartment was obtained improperly.
45. Ahmed Ferhani and Mohamed Mamdouh—May 2011. Ahmed Ferhani of Algeria, and Moroccan-born Mohamed Mamdouh, a U.S. citizen, were arrested by the New York Police Department after attempting to purchase a hand grenade, guns, and ammunition to attack an undetermined Manhattan synagogue. The men planned on disguising themselves as Orthodox Jews in order to sneak into the synagogue.Reports have also cited the Empire State Building as a possible second target. Both men pleaded guilty to a variety of charges under New York state terror laws, and were sentenced to 10 years and five years, respectively, in prison.Ferhani, the alleged mastermind, admitted to conspiring with Mamdouh to bomb synagogues in retaliation for what he viewed as Jewish mistreatment of Muslims throughout the world.