Muslims Arrested in Rash of Alleged U.S. Terror Plots

The threat of domestic Islamic terrorism is not going away.

In the last several months, a Moroccan was arrested carrying a machine gun and a nail-packed explosive vest on his way to the U.S. Capitol; a native of the Dominican Republic was indicted on charges he tried to attack police and other targets; and an Uzbek man was captured at a motel in Birmingham, Ala., where he claimed to be following instructions from a mysterious figure known only as “the Emir” to assassinate President Obama.

The cases seemed to reflect terrorism experts’ view that foreign-directed Al Qaeda plots are becoming less of a threat than Americans and immigrants who are influenced by Al Qaeda propaganda but act on their own. The same experts point out that such people’s success rates tend to be abysmal.

Take the case of Amine El Khalifi, the 29-year-old Moroccan man arrested in February as he carried a vest that he thought was packed with explosives in Washington, D.C. As The New York Times reported, Khalifi never posed a real danger — the weapons provided to him by an undercover federal agent were inoperative.

Ulugbek Kodirov
Ulugbek Kodirov
The next month, a federal grand jury in New York indicted Jose Pimentel, 27, on terror charges related to building a pipe bomb to attack police, soldiers and other government targets. Pimentel allegedly “attempted to build explosive devices as part of his plan to use violence to influence the foreign policy of the United States government by intimidation and coercion.” Police said the Dominican Republic-born Al Qaeda sympathizer and Muslim convert also told them he believed Islamic law obligates all Muslims to wage war against Americans.

Elsewhere, in Boston, Tarek Mehanna was convicted last December on federal charges that included making false statements, conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist organization and conspiracy to kill in a foreign country. According to reports, Mehanna became an operative for Al Qaeda after traveling to Yemen in 2004 to train at a terrorist camp.

That same month, Ulugbek Kodirov, a 22-year-old Uzbek national, pleaded guilty to federal charges of threatening to kill Obama, possession of an illegal weapon and supporting the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, a U.S.-designated terrorist group. Several other Uzbeks living in the United States have either been designated global terrorists by the State Department or have been arrested on similar terror charges.