We’re living in an age of terror. Every week seems to bring news of some fresh atrocity in France or Turkey or Indonesia. It can often seem like the world is stuffed full of professional killers, just waiting to hurt our loved ones and countrymen.
Luckily, not every terrorist is a professional. Most of them aren’t even inspired amateurs. Go hunting among the lower tiers of jihadists, ultranationalists, and extremists, and you’ll find wannabe killers so incompetent and idiotic that the only sane response is to laugh your ass off at their exploits.
10 The Kangaroo Bomb Plot
Although Australia has suffered at the hands of Islamic terrorists, it (thankfully) hasn’t yet experienced its own San Bernardino or 7/7. Sevdet Ramadan Besim, age 19, planned to change all that. Along with an accomplice, he plotted to unleash a reign of terror on the streets of Melbourne to coincide with Anzac Day, a national holiday commemorating Australia and New Zealand’s fallen soldiers.
It could have resulted in unprecedented carnage . . . had Besim’s plans not been so fundamentally insane. Rather than emulating the Paris attackers, Besim apparently got his cues from old Warner Bros. cartoons. His plan involved stuffing a kangaroo with explosives, painting it with Islamic State symbols, and setting it loose on police officers.
That’s the sort of plan Wile E. Coyote would dismiss as “too stupid.” Kangaroos are surprisingly dangerous and wouldn’t take kindly to being packed with explosives. Even if you could somehow radicalize one and convince it to be your suicide bomber, there’s literally no way that you could train it to charge into a group of police officers.
We’d love to tell you that Besim’s plan failed when a wild kangaroo beat him senseless. Instead, his capture was thanks to the hard work of Australia’s police officers.
9 The Taliban Leader And The Reward Money
Have you ever been in a bit of a financial fix and needed cash quickly? Most of us would probably bite the bullet and go to a payday loan lender. Most of us aren’t Mohammad Ashan.
A low-level Taliban commander in Afghanistan, Ashan found himself in dire need of US currency in 2012. So he did what any wanted terrorist would do: He turned himself in at a military checkpoint and demanded the reward money for his own capture.
Although he was low-ranking, Ashan was nevertheless a bona fide scumbag. He’d organized attacks on US and Afghan troops and was skilled in making IEDs. Oddly, the reward money on Ashan’s head was pitiful—only $100, a fairly paltry sum even in war-torn Afghanistan.
Despite the many clear, commonsense reasons for staying hidden, Ashan nonetheless decided that the risk was worth it for some American currency. For his efforts, he was arrested by the Afghan military and turned over to the US. You’ll be pleased to hear that he never got his $100.
8 The Sports Ice Pack Plot
In 2013, a group of Islamic extremists in Birmingham, England, hatched a fiendish plot to kill as many civilians as possible. Using money they got by posing as charity representatives, they would buy hundreds of sports ice packs, extract the ammonium nitrate in them, and construct a gigantic bomb. They would then go on a killing spree that would make 7/7 look like a walk in the park.
If you’re wondering why you’ve never heard about sports ice packs being bomb-making material, it’s because they’re not (anymore). The packs that the terror cell bought contained absolutely no ammonium nitrate. It wouldn’t have mattered, anyway, as they were only able to afford one. Hilariously, their ringleader, a housebound guy nicknamed “Chubbs” who weighed 146 kilograms (322 lb), had planned to increase their terror fund by betting online. However, one of his underlings, Rahim Ahmed, managed to lose £3,000 when he went to make a cup of tea and left his bets running, as well as another £6,000 by virtue of being a terrible gambler.
When they were finally caught, the group was so pitiful that the defense’s entire case rested on how pathetic they were. Singling Chubbs out for pity, the group’s attorney claimed that he was a “lazy, overweight mummy’s boy” whom Al-Qaeda would never waste expensive weapons on. That’s right; the entire case essentially rested on Chubbs being such a fat loser that the other terrorists wouldn’t want to play with him. Happily, the group was convicted.
7 Michael O’Neill Blows Off His Leg
Not every hilariously stupid terrorist swears allegiance to Allah. Meet white supremacist Michael O’Neill. A resident of Niagara County, New York, O’Neill was caught in summer 2015 making pipe bombs in his stepfather’s garage. How did police manage to catch him? We’re glad you asked.
O’Neill was using a hot glue gun to seal the end of his explosives, devices which he planned to pack with nails to inflict mass casualties. Somehow, the glue gun started a fire. O’Neill decided to do the least sensible thing he could think of: He decided to stamp it out, bringing his foot crashing down again and again on his homemade bombs.
You can probably guess where this is going.
The resulting explosion ripped O’Neill’s leg off and alerted police to what this idiot homegrown terrorist was up to. They seized his bomb factory and neo-Nazi materials and then hauled him off to the hospital, presumably less worried that he might hurt other people and more that the moron might find a way to blow his other leg off.
6 Michael Stone’s ‘Performance Art’
A loyalist terrorist from Northern Ireland, Michael Stone was convicted in 1989 for a gun and grenade attack on the funeral of three IRA members. Sentenced to life, he was released in 2000 as part of the Good Friday Agreement, which ended the Troubles. However, Stone himself seemed to miss the part about the paramilitary war being over. In 2006, he hatched a plot to enter the Northern Irish Assembly at Stormont and murder Sinn Fein members Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness.
Although Stone was a trained killer, he completely screwed up the Stormont attack to a hilarious extent. After entering the building, he set fire to an IED and hurled it along the corridor. The bomb landed only a few yards from Stone and utterly failed to explode. Not to be deterred, the wannabe terrorist pulled a fake gun on security guards. The guards then tackled Stone and proceeded to beat the fanaticism out of him.
The madness wasn’t over yet. When he was finally hauled into court, Stone claimed the whole thing was a piece of “performance art.” The judge took one look at his long history of terrorism, compared it to his nonexistent history of performance art, and threw the book at him.
5 The Mexican Cartel Plot
Mexican cartels are extremely scary organizations. State terror groups are equally terrifying. Imagine if these two entities decided to join forces. The scale of carnage they could unleash would be unimaginable.
That’s what Iran’s government was presumably thinking when they tasked two agents with hiring members of a cartel to murder the Saudi ambassador and bomb two embassies. However, it turns out that hiring a cartel assassin isn’t as simple as approaching the nearest Mexican and offering him lots of money. Nonetheless, that’s exactly what the two Iranian agents decided to do.
Despite having no connections to the cartels, the Iranians tried to set up a meeting with a Mexican in the narcotics trade. They failed spectacularly. The only guy they made contact with happened to be an undercover DEA agent infiltrating the gang. He took their money, agreed to help, and then immediately reported both of the wannabe terrorists to the FBI.
After the men were arrested, Iran publicly distanced itself from their actions, claiming that the arrests were a political ploy by President Obama. The judge disagreed and sent the ringleader to prison for 25 years.
4 Foiled By Their Parents #1
In another universe, the so-called “DC Five” would be notorious. A group of five young men from the outer suburbs of Washington, DC, they traveled to Pakistan in 2009 to wage jihad. Their targets included a nuclear power plant, an air base, US soldiers, and a number of “soft” targets back in the States. They were ruthless, brutal, and ready to die for their cause. They could have been notorious killers, had one obstacle not stood in their way—their parents.
Since they were aged between 18 and 24, the men apparently didn’t think their parents would worry if they took some unscheduled time off. Bad move. All five hopped a flight to Pakistan just before Thanksgiving, without telling anyone that they were leaving. Had they concocted even the lamest excuse, they’d probably have never been caught. As it was, when their parents discovered they were missing, they immediately contacted the FBI.
What followed was a vast international missing persons case that saw the men tracked across the globe. They were eventually detained in a village in Pakistan before they could commit any atrocities or even start training.
3 Aum Screws Up Bioweapons
We’ve told you before about Aum Shinrikyo, the creepy cult that gassed the Tokyo subway in 1995, killing 12 and injuring over 5,000. Aum was a genuine terror outfit, capable of mass murder. They once even tried to produce their own nuclear weapon. However, they were also capable of acts of hilarious incompetence, such as when they tried to set up their own biological weapons program.
Make no mistake, a biological terror attack has the potential to be extremely deadly indeed, but Aum really sucked at germ warfare. In 1993, they outfitted a van to spray botulism and drove it through the streets of Tokyo, only to discover that they were using an inactive strain that was incapable of harming humans.
Undeterred, the group decided to try again, this time with anthrax. After acquiring a sample, they grew cultures in a lab and then sprayed clouds of the stuff from the roof of their headquarters over Tokyo. The attack would have killed thousands . . . had Aum not accidentally used a vaccination strain. Instead of killing people, the worst their attack could do was actually immunize them against future anthrax attacks.
All told, Aum carried out nine separate bioweapons attacks, targeting US bases, the Japanese parliament, and the Imperial Palace. Not a single person got even slightly sick. Their nerve gas attack may have paralyzed Tokyo, but when it came to bioweapons, Aum was the biggest group of bunglers you could possibly imagine.
2 Foiled By Their Parents #2
London is a big target for jihadists these days, so when two Newcastle teenagers decided to launch a terror operation, the British capital seemed like a natural target. The 15-year-olds, who remain unnamed for legal reasons, hatched a plot to make pipe bombs and attack Buckingham Palace, the Houses of Parliament, and a shopping center.
Although they lacked training, the pair had access to The Anarchist Cookbook and had assembled enough bomb-making material to potentially endanger lives. They might have even pulled off the shopping center attack part of their scheme if they hadn’t run headlong into a formidable opponent—one of their mothers.
While checking her son’s room, the mother came across a “suspicious” substance and alerted the police. It turned out to be nothing deadlier than crushed paracetamol, caffeine, and sucrose. However, the police searched his room, where they found bomb-making equipment, anti-Semitic literature, and a detailed plan to attack targets in London. The potential attack was thwarted, all thanks to one super-observant mom.
1 The Saudi Butt Bomber
Sometimes, a bad guy gets a comeuppance that is both so deserved and utterly hilarious that it makes you realize God really does have a sense of humor. Meet Abdullah Hassan Tali al-Asiri, a suicide bomber with a grudge against Saudi Arabia. In 2009, the 23-year-old hatched a plan to kill the head of the security service, Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef. But how could he possibly get a bomb close enough to the prince to kill him?
Al-Qaeda had an answer. They convinced al-Asiri to hide the bomb inside his own butt.
The ridiculous plan worked, to a point. Al-Asiri managed to squeeze a bomb inside his own body cavity during what was presumably a hilariously painful visit to the toilet and arrange a meeting with the prince. He walked into the prince’s office, shook his hand, and detonated the bomb.
At that point, things got messy.
It turns that out your butt is a very impractical place to hide an IED. Al-Asiri’s body took the force of the blast, resulting in him splattering into little pieces while the prince was completely unscathed. The only negative side effect was having al-Asiri’s blood splattered over him, making him look like he was Bruce Campbell in an Evil Dead film. There’s no word on his reaction, but we hope he responded by dropping a casual one-liner, coolly flicking a lump of entrails off his shoulder, and going about his day like nothing had happened.
10 Embarrassingly Dumb Terror Plots That Failed Miserably