On Christmas Day 2009, Abdul Farouk Umar Abdulmutallab attempted to detonate exposives contained in his underwear on a flight arriving in Detroit. Abdulmutallab unexpectedly pleaded guilty in November 2011.
As reported by ABC News on December 26, 2009:
The plot to blow up an American passenger jet over Detroit was organized and launched by al Qaeda leaders in Yemen who apparently sewed bomb materials into the suspect’s underwear before sending him on his mission, federal authorities tell ABC News.
Investigators say the suspect had more than 80 grams of PETN, a compound related to nitro-glycerin used by the military. The so-called shoe bomber, Richard Reid, had only about 50 grams kin his failed attempt in 2001 to blow up a U.S.-bound jet. Yesterday’s bomb failed because the detonator may have been too small or was not in “proper contact” with the explosive material, investigators told ABC News..
In posts on December 26 and the days that followed, I noted that the immediate reaction of left-wing bloggers was to try to make light of the attempt. Matthew Yglesias of Think Progress called it Not So Scary “Terror”, while Faiz Shakir also of Think Progress attacked Pete Hokstra for criticizing the Obama administration’s failure to connect the dots.
Oddly enough, Maureen Dowd made the same point Hockstra had made:
If we can’t catch a Nigerian with a powerful explosive powder in his oddly feminine-looking underpants and a syringe full of acid, a man whose own father had alerted the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria, a traveler whose ticket was paid for in cash and who didn’t check bags, whose visa renewal had been denied by the British, who had studied Arabic in Al Qaeda sanctuary Yemen, whose name was on a counterterrorism watch list, who can we catch?
The most preposterous statement was made by Spencer Ackerman (at the time blogging at Firedoglake), in what was the Worst Tweet of the Year:
After that statement, I ran this video of how that “firecracker” would have looked had it exploded:
I also ran this Tweet of the Day:
Janet Napolitano, meanwhle, assured us that “the system worked”: