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10 Terrorist Plots That Failed

        Science | Explosives

5
The Times Square Bomber
An image of terror suspect Faisal Shahzad flashes on a TV screen as U.S. Attorney-General Eric Holder (C) and other officials hold a briefing regarding the investigation into the Times Square attempted bombing. JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images
An image of terror suspect Faisal Shahzad flashes on a TV screen as U.S. Attorney-General Eric Holder (C) and other officials hold a briefing regarding the investigation into the Times Square attempted bombing. JEWEL SAMAD/AFP/Getty Images

Times Square is one of the busiest places -- in one of the most populated cities -- on Earth, which makes it an ideal place to people watch. And bad news for would-be bombers.

In 2010, a Pakistani immigrant driving an SUV parked illegally near Times Square and promptly abandoned his vehicle. But not before lighting the fuse of a homemade bomb fueled by propane, diesel and ammonium nitrate.

Faisal Shahzad expected his exit to be followed by a ground-shaking boom. Instead, the plot went up in smoke when a watchful street vendor noticed Shahzad's rapid exit, which was followed by smoke coming from the vehicle. The vendor called police, and the area was quickly cleared.

Thankfully, the faulty bomb didn't detonate (it was wired incorrectly), but if his plan had worked, Shahzad would likely have killed dozens of bystanders. He was later sentenced to life in prison. The judge said she hoped he spent some of his prison time thinking about "whether the Koran wants you to kill lots of people" [sources: Associated Press, John].