2010 has seen international security services foil several major plots to launch attacks that have been blamed on al-Qaeda. From New York to Paris, London to Riyadh, security forces have prevented attacks that could have left hundreds dead, sometimes more by luck than judgement. Here are some of the major ones:
December 29: Five men suspected of plotting an attack on the offices of Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper which published the controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in Sept 2005, are arrested in Copenhagen and Stockholm in a joint Danish-Swedish intelligence operation.
December 24: Twelve Somalis suspected of plotting a “terrorist” attack in the Netherlands are arrested in Rotterdam after a warning is received from the Dutch intelligence and security service.
November 27: A Somali-born teenager is arrested in the US for planning a car bomb attack on a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the state of Oregon.
November 23: Ten people are detained by police in Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany for allegedly plotting an attack in Belgium.
October 29: UK and Dubai authorities uncover bombs hidden in parcels sent from Yemen to the US. UK security forces say that had the device detonated, it could have blown the plane out of the sky. The plot sparks an international security alert and focuses international attention on Yemen for the second time in a year, following a December 2009 plot to blow up a transatlantic airliner.
October 28: US officials arrest a Pakistani-American for plotting a series of bomb attacks on Washington’s subway system. Farooque Ahmed was arrested after a US court indicted him with plotted the attacks.
October 15: Swedish authorities charge two citizens of Somali origin with “planning terrorist crimes” in Somalia. The Swedes say they intercepted the two men while they were planning to travel to Somalia to become suicide bombers.
September 29: European spy agencies foil a plan to lauch Mumbai-style attacks on Britain, France and Germany. Intelligence agencies say that fighters based in Pakistan had been planning advanced attacks on European cities, but that they were not imminant when the plot was disrupted.
May 2: A car bomb is discovered in New York City’s Time Square, prompting US police to evacuate thousands of people from the area. A manhunt was launched resulting in the arrest of Faisal Shahzad, a 30 year old Pakistani living in Connecticut. Shahzad told interrogators that he had been inspired by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American cleric living in Yemen. In October, Shahzad was sentenced to life in prison.
March 27: Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil exporter, announces the arrest of more than 100 people suspected of plotting attacks on oil and security installations in the kingdom. The network was beleived to have links to al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, a Yemen based group.
March 10: An American woman is charged by US authorities for plotting to kill a Swedish cartoonist and trying to recruit fighters via the internet to carry out overseas attacks. Colleen LaRose, known as JihadJane is awaiting trial in US custody.