Fact Check: Bush Claims 10 Al Qaida Plots Disrupted

During this morning’s speech President Bush made a noteworthy claim:

Overall, the United States and our partners have disrupted at least 10 serious Al Qaida terrorist plots since September the 11th, including three Al Qaida plots to attack inside the United States.

Not surprisingly, White House spokesman Scott McClellan was asked for more information. Here’s what he said:

MCCLELLAN: Some of them are known publicly, like the capture of Jose Padilla and Iyman Faris. Jose Padilla, if you remember, was involved in plots involving a possibility of a dirty bomb. And Iyman Faris was someone who had been in contact with people like Khalid Shaikh Mohammed and captured with plots looking at a — blowing up or destroying a New York bridge.


And then there are other incidents that are still classified.

So let’s review what we know about the 10 incidents:

1. Jose Padilla. “Paul Wolfowitz, Mr. Rumsfeld’s deputy, stressed on Monday that ‘there was not an actual plan’ to set off a radioactive device in America and Padilla had not begun trying to acquire materials. Intelligence officials said his research had not gone beyond surfing the internet.” Since being detained in O’Hare airport in 2002, Padilla has not been charged with any crime or permitted to talk to a lawyer. [Daily Telegraph, 12/06/02; Washington Post, 9/10/05]

2. Iyman Faris. Faris was an Ohio truck driver who pleaded guilty in June 2003 to two felony charges of supporting a foreign terrorist organization. He was charged with plotting to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge, but U.S. officials admitted that Faris had abandoned the plot because he deemed it unlikely to succeed. “After scouting the bridge and deciding its security and structure meant the plot was unlikely to succeed, he passed along a message to al Qaeda in early 2003 that said ‘the weather is too hot.’” [CNN, 6/19/03]

3–10: Classified.

To recap: One three-year old arrest in a case where no charges have been filed, one two-year old arrest related to a plot that was already abandoned and eight “incidents” the administration won’t tell us anything about.