Since 2001, there have been 28 failed terrorist attacks against the United States. That averages out to about three foiled attempts per year. That was until this year. This year there were six failed attempts that make 2009 a banner year — the most in one year.
The fact that six attacks were foiled is cold comfort. In stopping #28, America just got lucky. Despite the warning signs, authorities did nothing to impede Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab’s travel. The plan of attack on the Detroit-bound plane didn’t work and the passengers and crew stopped the assailant.
Additionally, in 2009, not every terrorist attack was stopped. In November, Nidal Malik Hasan gunned down a dozen of his fellow soldiers and shot up a score more — despite the fact that there were red flags galore that he was some one to worry about. Others were recruited here to attack over there, including five young men from northern Virginia who shipped-off to Pakistan; youth from Minneapolis enticed to fight Al-Shabaab, an al-Qaeda affiliate; and David Coleman Headley, who allegedly helped plan the Mumbai attacks and other potential strikes.
In short, the system has failed a number of times in 2009. To make matters worse, Washington hasn’t shown that it cares very much. It doesn’t like to call the war a war. It doesn’t seem to care that some Patriot Act authorities will expire in 60 days. It would rather the Department of Homeland Security push for a mass amnesty bill than fight terrorists and try control the border.
— James Jay Carafano is senior research fellow for national security and homeland security in the Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation.