Immediately after 9/11, it seemed as if the Western World had entered a bizarre and frightening new reality. From then on, or so it appeared that morning, everybody was going to live in a world like Terry Gilliam’s Brazil—a massive security state beset by unpredictable terrorist violence. Mushroom clouds would soon be erupting over American and European cities, citizens would be carrying gas masks everywhere, and nobody would ever know where the next devastating blow would fall.
That didn’t wind up happening. While people in positions of authority would certainly like for you to believe that vigorous police work and a fearless willingness to view every text you send—naked pictures or not—are largely responsible for preventing the would-be terrorist holocaust, the truth is that sometimes we’re just not up against that much. You see, the skills every good terrorist needs—patience, a good work ethic, basic intelligence and foresight—tend to make people good enough at other things, like holding down a job, which has a way of sapping the urge to go into terrorism in the first place. Here, then, are three of the biggest screw-ups ever to try airing their grievances through violence.
Terrorist Fails: Terror Noobs In The Philippines Strike At America, Themselves
There are a few basics to keep in mind when you’re starting your violent jihad. For instance, high-profile targets are preferable to low-profile ones. You get more bang for your buck—so to speak—by hitting well-known and densely occupied locations: your airports, your federal buildings, the occasional high rise office tower. By this standard, engaging in a midnight assault on the Thomas Jefferson Cultural Center in Makati, Philippines, when nobody was there would seem to be a bit pointless.
That didn’t stop intrepid jihadists Ahmed J. Ahmed and Sa’ad Kahim from doing just that on January 19, 1991. The not-so dynamic duo was presumably acting in sympathy with Saddam Hussein, who was at that moment getting a heroic beat down in the first Gulf War.
“You know what would turn this around? If two idiots blew up a library somewhere.” Source: Wikipedia
The plan was simplicity itself: get a bomb, blow up the building. Hard to go wrong with that, you’d think. In fact, Ahmed Ahmed, the terrorist so nice they named him twice, even had the brilliant idea of waiting to arm the bomb until he was ready to plant it—you know, safety first.
Unfortunately, the terror newbies planned to plant their bomb at night. Not being good at science, they didn’t seem to expect it to be dark after sunset and forgot to bring a flashlight. Fortunately, Mr. Ahmed was resourceful enough to think of using his lighter to help him see as he armed the bomb.
Ahmed’s idea was to set the timer on the bomb for five minutes, make a clean getaway, and celebrate Miller Time with whatever the radical Islamic terrorist equivalent of a beer is. Imagine his surprise when he hit the arming circuit and saw “5:00″ count down immediately to “4:00,” with nothing in between. “3:00″ came next, followed by “2:00,” which is the point Ahmed probably realized he set his little bomb upside-down and primed it for five seconds.
When they found Sa’ad, he was wandering around in the open, injured, and covered with his friend’s blood. A friendly local cab driver took him to the hospital assuming he was a victim of the bombing. Fortunately, Sa’ad had the presence of mind to ask the first person he saw at the hospital to call his friends at the embassy … the Iraqi embassy, whose number Sa’ad was helpfully carrying on his person. It’s that kind of thoughtfulness that makes the inevitable prosecution that much easier.
Terrorist Fails: Fort Dix Is Defended By Armed Guards, Federal Troops, And Alert Customer Service Reps
This is a good idea that cannot possibly go wrong. We’re smart. Source: Wikimedia Commons
Let’s play pretend. So you’re planning a big terrorist atrocity, and your scary group of militants is in the mood to aim big. Since you’re already in New Jersey and plane fare is expensive, the six of you decide to hit an unsuspecting US military on its own turf at Fort Dix.
As any seasoned military strategist can tell you, Step One of any mass murder is to stage weapons drills until your men are sharp enough to overcome the inevitable armed response. Most military strategists however, not being complete morons, would advise that you conduct this training in remote locations where you’re not likely to be observed shooting off rounds and praying for a successful jihad against the infidels.
It’s also probably not a good idea to film yourself doing these things at the local gun range. If you decide you simply must, however, and it’s the year 2007, be sure you use a f&%*ing digital camera. Otherwise, when your group’s most expendable member takes the VHS tape down to Circuit City to be digitized for Internet upload, as the Fort Dix Six did, the minimum-wage sales associate whose job is to transfer your propaganda to .wma format might get a teensy bit suspicious of all the guys wearing ski masks and shouting in Arabic while reading a long-winded manifesto about holy war.
Circuit City employees: America’s 746th line of defense. The empty parking lot makes for clear lanes of fire. Source: Blogspot
The punchline here is that the Circuit City employee, whose suspicions were probably first aroused by the fact that somebody was actually choosing to visit Circuit City in the first place, was actually hurting the investigation by reporting his suspicions. You see, the group had already been infiltrated by the FBI, and two of its six members were actually plants monitoring the group. Two out of six. In a move that probably surprised only 0.67 of the terror cell, federal agents swept down on the group and sent them all away forever the end.
Terrorist Fails: Attacking Glasgow International Airport Is Literally The Worst Idea Ever
Life isn’t fair sometimes. While your average medieval peasant was able to accept his lot in life without any idea that a better one was possible, today’s losers have a bunch of Hollywood movies to get their hopes up. What kid could grow up watching Die Hard, for example, and not want to blow up a propane tank? Seriously, like every third movie has propane tanks exploding when they get hit, and they always seem to explode with the force of a hundred sticks of dynamite. Pretty good choice for a terror weapon, huh? They’re everywhere, they’re relatively cheap, and there’s nothing suspicious about owning one—unlike, say a dozen sticks of TNT wired to an alarm clock.
“Don’t get me started on the Illudium Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator. It isn’t easy to get an Earth-shattering kaboom, you know.” Source: Wikia
Unfortunately, things that are cheap, ubiquitous, and unthreatening tend not to make very good bombs—for exactly those reasons. Which is why the “terror” attack Bilal Abdullah and Khalid Ahmed planned for Glasgow International Airport was doomed to fail from the start.
After their first attempt at spreading terror in London, the sole result of which was that their car bomb got safely towed away for illegal parking, the pair decided to hit the big time by loading some propane cylinders into a Jeep Grand Cherokee and driving through the concourse at Glasgow International. Heck, propane is flammable, right? It’s bound to explode when you crash it hard enough.
You, planning a major terrorist attack with no intention of surviving, would probably plan the martyrdom operation down to the smallest detail. Of course, if you’re the sort of person who thinks like that, congratulations on not being near as big a loser as the typical member of al Qaeda.
“I resent that. Among many, many other things.”
When Khalid—who was trained as an engineer, mind you—drove the Jeep up to the front of the concourse, he found his way blocked by security bastions, those little metal poles that every public building in the world has to discourage exactly this kind of attack. That’s right, the two terrorists hadn’t even cased the airport prior to launching their grand attack.
Never one to let an impassable barrier stand in the way, Khalid rammed the bastions. Then the soon-to-be-former engineer discovered why you can’t trust Die Hard-style physics in the real world. Instead of exploding in a blaze of glorious jihad, the tanks really just burst open and sprayed flammable gas all over the cabin of the jeep, then they caught fire and shot out the rear hatch.
Khalid exited the vehicle on fire—that is, he was on fire when he exited the vehicle—and was immediately “subdued” by police, meaning that he was beaten senseless. Ahmed, however, was made of sterner stuff. On exiting the vehicle, the also-on-fire Ahmed ran in circles trying to pick fights with passers-by, presumably operating under the assumption that breaking an infidel’s nose with a sucker punch was almost as good as killing the hundreds the plan had originally called for.
Starting a fistfight in Glasgow isn’t hard. Actually winning it is. When John Smeaton, Scottish baggage handler extraordinaire, sensed a fight nearby, his essential Scottishness simply wouldn’t allow him to pass up the opportunity to intervene. Dropping his cigarette (careful John, those things are dangerous!) Smeaton ran straight at Ahmed and performed the ancient Scottish ritual of shouting “fuckin’ ‘mon, then!” and kicking his opponent in the groin hard enough to rip a tendon in his foot. Ahmed later died of his “injuries,” while Bilal got 32 years for conspiracy to commit murder. Notice the absence of actual murder charges. In two terror attacks over two days, his “terror” cell managed an actual death toll of zero.
Via All That Is Interesting
: The World’s Most Pathetic Terrorist Fails