On Jan. 7, Ismail Hamed brandished a knife against an Arizona police officer and was shot after refusing to comply with orders to drop the weapon.
On Jan. 16, Hasher Jallal Taheb was arrested in Georgia by the FBI for planning an attack against various sites in Washington, D.C., specifically targeting the White House.
Both men were driven by violent Islamist ideology, making these cases the 106th and 107th Islamist terror plots or attacks against the U.S. homeland since 9/11.
Hamed’s attempted terrorist attack began when he called 911 on Jan. 7 and requested to meet with a police officer, while stating that he had a terrorist ideology. When the officer arrived and tried to speak to him, Hamed began throwing rocks, then pulled out a knife and began making aggressive moves toward the officer.
The officer drew his firearm and ordered Hamed to stop multiple times. The officer then shot him after he refused to stop advancing and was within a yard of the officer.
Hamed survived the incident and is now in police custody. The investigation, carried out by local police and the FBI, found that Hamed had radicalized to support ISIS and was a homegrown terrorist.
While this foiled attack was taking place in Arizona, another terror plot that had begun months earlier was nearing execution in Georgia.
In March 2018, a resident of Forsyth County, Georgia, notified local authorities that Hasher Jallal Taheb appeared to have radicalized and was looking to travel abroad. Local authorities notified the FBI.
In August, Taheb put his car up for sale, and when contacted by undercover FBI agents, he said he wanted to sell his car to pay for travel to Syria or Iraq.
But by October he had changed his mind, as he did not have a passport. He decided he could do more damage with an attack against the U.S. homeland. He considered attacking the White House or the Statue of Liberty in a suicide operation.
By December, Taheb had settled on attacking the White House and potentially some other monuments or a synagogues in D.C. By this point he believed he was the leader of a group, though the members of his group were an undercover agent and an informant.
Taheb wanted to acquire rifles, explosive devices, and shoulder-fired rocket launchers to attack the White House and was led to believe the other members of his group knew someone he could purchase these weapons from. Throughout his conversations with the undercover agents, he frequently cited terrorist propaganda and said he wanted to produce his own.
On Jan. 16, Taheb met with the seller of the weapons—another undercover FBI agent—and traded his car for the weapons. The FBI then arrested him.
Hamed and Taheb’s plots represent the 93rd and 94th homegrown terror plots, as both had radicalized domestically and planned their attacks here in the U.S.
These plots are the first of 2019. Such plots have been on the decline recently—2018 saw much fewer attacks than years past.
In 2016, there were 13 plots or attacks, largely connected to the influence of ISIS. Yet the U.S. saw only four plots in 2018, reflecting ISIS’ sharp decline as it has shrunk to a tiny fraction of its past power and influence.
The U.S. cannot allow terrorists to enjoy safe havens. Defeating these groups abroad is an important part of keeping the U.S. safe at home.
Let us hope that U.S. efforts, both at home and abroad, will continue to thwart these terror threats.