A senior Taliban commander killed himself and his assistant when a bomb they were assembling prematurely detonated, the BBC reported yesterday. Several of Irshad Khan’s family members were also wounded at the explosion in his home in northwest Pakistan.
While we can all be thankful for Khan’s ineptitude, his untimely death is not unique.
Following Faisal Shahzad’s botched Time Square bombing on May 1, I noted in an article at AOL News that Shahzad’s car bomb had the wrong fertilizer, faulty wiring, and the propane tanks were never opened. That earned him the number 10 spot in my “Top Ten Terrorist Blunders.”
Here are a few others:
- Ahmed Ajaj attempted to enter America in 1992 on a doctored Swedish passport. Authorities kicked him out after opening his suitcase, which contained bomb-making instructions, terrorist training manuals, and videos.
- Richard Reid, a member of al-Qaeda from the U.K., tried to detonate a shoe-bomb on a flight from Paris to Miami in 2001. At first, Reid could not light his match. After that, the bomb didn’t explode because Reid had perspired too much in his shoe.
- Last year, a Nigerian national named Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab tried to explode his “underpants bomb” on a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit. Passengers intervened when they heard popping noises and saw Abdulmutallab’s pants on fire.
Of course, these and other jihadi blunders are entertaining. But, as I noted in my original article, “these attacks failed because of the terrorists’ own ineptitude. They were not thwarted by our top-notch intelligence.”
Indeed, we continue to be blessed with less-than-brilliant enemies. But we cannot forget that there is a dangerous enemy out there, operating both here and abroad, that is determined to kill Americans. The next attempt may succeed.
Jonathan Schanzer, a former terrorism intelligence analyst at the U.S. Treasury, is vice president of research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.