When I think back to 9/11/01, my most vivid memory is of a palpable fear that the nation felt but left largely unspoken, that we were unspeakably vulnerable, that things were out of control, that events were spiralling, that anything could happen anywhere and that literally the fabric of the nation was in danger of tearing.
Once it became the clear that the extent of the attacks was “confined” to the WTC and the Pentagon (we don’t know where United Flight 93 was headed – most likely the White House or the Capitol) it became easy to say, “What was I worried about? (Name your location) isn’t exactly on the list of most likely terror targets.”
Well, who would have thought a shopping mall in Columbus, Ohio would be on the list? We weren’t paranoid at all to be concerned, and law enforcement deserves a lot more credit than it has received for their work since 9/11.
- A Somali native living in Ohio has been charged with plotting with other al-Qaida operatives to blow up a Columbus-area shopping mall, according to an indictment unsealed Monday.
The four-count indictment, returned by a grand jury in Columbus, Ohio, charges that Nuradin Abdi, 32, conspired with admitted al-Qaida member Iyman Faris and others to detonate a bomb at the unidentified shopping mall after he obtained military-style training in Ethiopia.
Abdi is also charged with fraud and misuse of documents by claiming that he had been granted valid asylum status in the United States. In fact, prosecutors say, he obtained that refugee document under false pretenses.
There also is one count each of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists and conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, in this case al-Qaida.
The charges against Abdi, who has been in custody since November on immigration-related violations, were handed up by the grand jury last Thursday.
….Faris is serving a 20-year federal sentence after pleading guilty last June to providing material support to al-Qaida. Faris, an Ohio-based truck driver originally from Kashmir, admitted plotting to sever the cables supporting the Brooklyn Bridge in New York and to derail trains in New York or Washington.
Neither of those plots came to fruition.
Faris had received instructions from top al-Qaida leader Khalid Shaikh Mohammed for what might have been a second wave of attacks to follow those of Sept. 11, 2001, investigators say. Mohammed, the alleged mastermind of the hijackings, is in U.S. custody at an undisclosed overseas location. [AP]
Between Abdi, Faris and Cleveland imam Damra, Ohio is quite evidently not immune to terror, nor is anywhere else. Wishing it away will not make it so: only diligence and hard investigative work will. The threat is real and ongoing.