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What's behind string of terror plots

Arrests in separate terror plots in Springfield, Ill., and Dallas Thursday followed the indictment of Najibullah Zazi for plotting an attack in New York. Experts say the cases highlight the danger of domestic terrorism.

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•In a separate case in Texas, a young Jordanian-born man, Hosam Maher Husein Smadi, was arrested and charged Thursday for trying to blow up a Dallas skyscraper. According to the FBI affidavit, he told undercover agents "he came to the US for the specific purpose of committing 'jihad for the sake of God.' " He was set up by agents with fake explosives.

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•In a similar but unrelated federal investigation, agents charged Michael Finton of Illinois with trying to blow up a Springfield courthouse. Mr. Finton apparently converted to Islam after being released from a state prison where he served time on aggravated robbery and battery convictions. He was also provided with a bogus bomb by agents.

•In New York, Betim Kaziu was indicted Thursday for trying to join a terrorist group overseas and fight US troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Mr. Kaziu, a US citizen from Brooklyn, was arrested in Kosovo where he was apparently trying to join an Islamist militant group.

•In an ongoing North Carolina investigation of seven men charged with supporting foreign terrorist groups, two defendants were indicted Thursday for planning to attack the Marine base in Quantico, Va.

Sending a message?

Experts say they are unsure why these allegations have come to light in fairly quick succession. It could be due to the recent 9/11 anniversary, the United Nations General Assembly meeting in New York, or the G20 gathering in Pittsburgh. Or, they say, it could be just coincidence.

At least in the case against Mr. Zazi, there has been speculation that investigators may have acted too soon in making an arrest.

But the arrests could also be intended to send a message to others who seek to carry out domestic terrorism, says Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond in Virginia.

The moves shows the government is willing to act quickly in counterterrorism operations, he says. And from the government's perspective, he adds, they demonstrate the utility of some controversial aspects of the Patriot Act set to expire this year, such as wiretapping individuals under suspicion.


With so many terror plots this week, why didn't the US threat level color code change? Click here to find out.


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