Following the attacks in Beirut, Baghdad, and Paris, our newsfeeds were flooded with death tolls and prayers for survivors. We should all take the time to mourn those we’ve lost.
But we can’t let our grief get the best of us. We must also remember how many lives are saved because of the quick thinking of first responders and the government agencies that act predominantly behind the scenes. Because of them, so many people have been spared from harm.
Here are just a few of the many terrorist attacks that were stopped before anyone was hurt:
1. On December 22, 2001, Richard Reid attempted to detonate a shoe bomb.
Nearly 200 people were aboard the international flight. Heroic passengers subdued Reid and the plane made an emergency landing in Boston.
2. In 2003, Iyman Faris, a double agent for Al Qaeda positioned in the FBI, was caught for possible plots to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge.
Each day, some 125,000 motor vehicles, 4,000 pedestrians, and 2,600 cyclists cross the bridge.
3. Dhiren Barot was arrested in 2004 for suspected plots against the New York Stock Exchange, the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, and the Citigroup Center.
It later surfaced that Barot planned to use limousines filled with “dirty” bombs for the attacks.
4. Shahawar Matin Siraj and James Elshafay were arrested in 2004 for plots to bomb the 34th Street Herald Square subway station.
The popular station — close to Macy’s and Penn Station — is the third busiest stop in NYC’s entire subway system.
5. Back in 2006, seven men were arrested after allegedly plotting to bomb the Sears (now Willis) Tower and FBI offices.
The tower features 110 floors of office, retail, and recreational space.
6. Abdul Kadir, a former member of Guyana’s parliament, was arrested with three other men in 2007 in connection with plans to bomb the jet fuel line at JFK Airport.
Kadir was sentenced to life in prison.
7. Nineteen-year-old Hosam Maher Husein Smadi was arrested in 2009 for a plot to bomb a Dallas skyscraper.
The 60-story Fountain Palace is the fifth tallest structure in Dallas.
8. Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab was taken down by fellow passengers before he could detonate a bomb on a flight over Detroit.
He confessed to the Christmas Day incident and admitted to carrying plastic explosives in his underwear.
9. In 2012, Amine El Khalifi was arrested for a plot to carry out a suicide bombing at the United States Capitol.
The Moroccan man believed he was working with Al Qaeda, but he was actually in contact with undercover FBI agents the whole time.
10. Born and raised in Massachusetts, Rezwan Ferdaus was arrested in 2011 for plots to attack the Pentagon, United States Capitol, and U.S. soldiers abroad with IED devices.
Ferdaus was working with and supporting Al Qaeda.
11. In May 2010, Faisal Shahzad was arrested for an attempted car bombing in Times Square.
He was captured 53 hours after the failed plot, boarding a flight with Pakistan as the final destination.
12. In 2007, six men were arrested when plans were discovered targeting New Jersey’s Fort Dix base.
According to The Washington Post, their aim was “‘to kill as many American soldiers as possible’ with mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, and guns.”
13. Syed Haris Ahmed and Ehsanul Islam Sadequee were caught after videotaping Washington-area buildings.
Before their arrests, they sent the footage to a London-based jihadist website.
Thanks to quick decision-making paired with countless hours of investigation, thousands — if not millions — of lives have been saved. It’s important to always remember and thank those who don’t get enough recognition. We salute you!