The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

The $12,000 Times Square Bombing Attempt

The salient paragraph from the indictment of Faisal Shahzad in May’s attempted bombing in Times Square: In December 2009, Shahzad received explosives training

Elisa Mueller
News
Last updated: Jul 31, 2020 | Jun 18, 2010

The salient paragraph from the indictment of Faisal Shahzad in May’s attempted bombing in Times Square:

In December 2009, Shahzad received explosives training in Waziristan, Pakistan, from explosive trainers affiliated with Tehrik-e-Taliban, a militant extremist group based in Pakistan. On Feb. 25, 2010, Shahzad received approximately $5,000 in cash in Massachusetts sent from a co-conspirator (CC-1) in Pakistan whom Shahzad understood worked for Tehrik-e-Taliban. Approximately six weeks later, on April 10, 2010, Shahzad received an additional $7,000 in cash in Ronkonkoma, N.Y., which was also sent at CC-1′s direction.

So for $12,000, the Pakistani Taliban thought it could demonstrate global reach. And it clearly found a contractor in Shahzad. It’s tempting to say, in the wake of the plot’s failure, that the TTP got what it paid for. But the failure is less important than the demonstration that attempts at terrorism plotted halfway around the world are extraordinarily inexpensive, while the tools of counterterrorists — war, surveillance, homeland security — are stunningly costly.

On the other hand, the U.S. can now say that for $12,000 and the pricelessness of sustained ridicule, Shahzad’s life is over at 30. Two of the ten counts in his indictment carry charges of life in prison. It’s notable that so far, al-Qaeda and its allies have yet to find an American Muslim who’s been willing to commit an act of suicide terrorism. Perhaps Shahzad’s indictment can have some prophylactic effect: You wanna be that guy?

Elisa Mueller | Elisa Mueller was born in Kansas City, Missouri, to a mother who taught reading and a father who taught film. As a result, she spent an excessive amount of her childhood reading books and watching movies. She went to the University of Kansas for college, where she earned bachelor's degrees in English and journalism. She moved to New York City and worked for Entertainment Weekly magazine for ten years, visiting film sets all over the world.

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