Good Security Matters

The Independent U.K. reported today that police arrested a man in St Patrick’s Cathedral in New York who was carrying two full gas cans, lighter fluid and lighters. The man claimed to be cutting through the cathedral to get to Madison Avenue where his car was out of gas. The police accompanied him to his car and found that it was not out of gas. At that point the man was taken into custody.

The article notes:

The 37-year-old New Jersey man allegedly pulled up in a minivan outside the landmark in Manhattan on Wednesday night, walked around the area, and then returned to the vehicle to retrieve the items, said New York Police Department (NYPD).

“As he enters the cathedral he’s confronted by a cathedral security officer who asks him where he’s going and informs him he can’t proceed into the cathedral carrying these things,” said NYPD deputy commissioner of intelligence and counterterrorism John Miller.

“At that point some gasoline apparently spills out onto the floor as he’s turned around.”

Security then raised the alarm with counter-terrorism officers who were standing outside, Mr Miller said. 

It is encouraging to me that there were counter-terrorism officers standing outside.

The article reports:

He added: “It’s hard to say exactly what his intentions were, but I think the totality of circumstances of an individual walking into an iconic location like St Patrick’s Cathedral carrying over four gallons of gasoline, two bottles of lighter fluid and lighters is something that we would have great concern over.”

“It’s hard to say exactly what his intentions were…” Are you kidding me? That has to be the understatement of the year.

At any rate, I suspect that the police and security avoided what might have been a really awful event.

I Just Wish All Terrorists Were This Dumb

Yesterday Ed Morrissey at Hot Air posted an article about a would-be New York City terrorist. The way the New York Police Department and the Federal Bureau of Investigation uncovered this plot is somewhat amazing.

The police were investigating a bomb threat called into a school. When a 15-year-old student was bored in class one day, her teacher, Christian Toro, told her to call in a bomb threat to liven things up. When the threat was investigated, the student told the authorities that the teacher had suggested it. (I can’t believe she was stupid enough to follow the suggestion.) The teacher resigned, and two days later his brother returned the laptop computer that had been issued to Christian Toro by the school. When a school technician examined the computer, he found an instruction book on how to make explosives. NYPD dropped by to pay the former teacher a visit. Meanwhile, the student indicated to authorities that her relationship with the teacher was inappropriate. The former teacher was arrested for statutory rape. The student also mentioned that she and a friend had been in the teacher’s apartment and had been paid to empty black powder from fireworks. The investigation of the former teacher continued.

The article reports:

So police got a search warrant for the apartment shared by the twin Toros — and hit paydirt:

They discovered a box on the floor of the bedroom closet containing a glass jar of black powder, 20 pounds of iron oxide, five pounds of aluminum powder, five pounds of potassium nitrate, and two pounds of confectioners sugar. A small container held iron oxide and aluminum powder that had been mixed into thermite, which the complaint describes as “an explosive material that can create heat and high temperatures.”

They also found Tyler Toro’s diary, which had all sorts of interesting comments, including this epigram: “UNDER THE FULL MOON THE SMALL ONES WILL KNOW TERROR.” Yeah, nothing creepy at all about that.

So let’s recap. The teacher had decided to build a bomb for “terror,” but rather than keep things quiet, he had teenage students emptying out fireworks for the powder in large quantities. He then started having sex with one of them, and then encouraged her to call in a fake bomb threat to relieve her boredom. If all this is true, the only thing Toro didn’t do is to install a large sign on his apartment building that said “TORO TWINS TERROR, INC.”

The article concludes:

If stupidity was a federal crime, Christian Toro would be a death-penalty case. And yet, it apparently took all of this sequence of events for someone to finally say something about the Toros and their black-powder reclamation project. Next time, let’s hope “see something, say something” gets taken more seriously earlier in the cycle. Thankfully, an alert IT technician at the school managed to get it right.

I wish all terrorists were this stupid.