Since 2001, Al Qaeda is believed to have dispatched three men to blow up American airliners. Two of them tried but failed to set off explosions, and the third backed out of his assignment.
What made him different? A study suggests that families can play either a positive or negative role in a terrorist’s plans.
The report by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy looked at dozens of terrorists in trying to figure out what motivates terror dropouts and how others might be influenced to turn their backs on violent operations.
Michael Jacobson, who wrote the study, said one of the key differences in the case of British student Sajid Badat was his continued connection to his family. Badat, then 21, didn’t go through with a December 2001 shoe-bombing operation.
British intelligence tracked down Badat two years later using evidence found on shoe bomber Richard Reid, who attempted to bring down a plane in December 2001. More recently, a Nigerian man, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, was charged with trying to blow up a Detroit-bound airliner.
Jacobson said that unlike Reid and Abdulmutallab, Badat returned from militant camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan and eventually moved back in with his family.