10 Terrorist Plots That Failed

The Underwear Bomber
Photo of Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the "underwear bomber." The odds of being killed in a terrorist attack in the U.S. are one in 20 million, far less than being struck by lightning or dying of heart disease. U.S. Marshals Service via Getty Images

This failed terrorist plot by 23-year-old Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab gets high marks for creativity. On Christmas Day in 2009, the Nigerian native wearing underwear loaded with explosives managed to get through airport security and board a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit.

Once aboard the plane, Abdulmutallab cozied up under an airline blanket and proceeded to blow up his undies. Nearby passengers were alerted by loud popping noises coming from his nether regions, followed by flames as the bomb malfunctioned. Several passengers then sprang into action and subdued Abdulmutallab, who was arrested by authorities [source: Schanzer].

Abdulmutallab later revealed to the FBI that he'd been wearing the underwear bomb for three weeks to get used to it. It was a stinky decision, one that authorities believe ultimately led to the bomb's malfunction. ("[It] caused a little bit of separation in the sequence of events in the explosion," as FBI agent Ted Peissig told ABC News.) Abdulmutallab received multiple life sentences for the unsuccessful attack [source: Ferran].

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