When a Brooklyn man pleaded guilty to plotting to join Islamic State and to bomb Coney Island, it drew little attention outside of New York City despite the spectacular image his confession conjured of a fiery blast ripping through a seaside amusement park.
It was, after all, one of hundreds of such plots that the FBI said it had been tracking since long before last week’s Paris attacks, which were a stark reminder of Islamic State’s global reach.
Nowhere was that reminder as chilling as in the United States, where neither Al Qaeda nor Islamic State has pulled off a major strike since Sept. 11, 2001. Despite the track record, FBI director James B. Comey has warned that Islamic State, an organization that was added to the agency’s list of foreign terrorist groups only last year, is now in virtually every state.
“This is sort of the new normal,” Comey said in July after announcing the arrests of 10 people believed linked to Islamic State plots, including some suspected of planning attacks to coincide with the July 4 holiday.
The foiling of alleged plots linked to foreign terrorist groups made big news on the heels of 9/11, but the cases rarely get much notice anymore unless they follow events such as the Paris violence. Even the most unusual cases, with exceptionally young defendants or especially wild accusations, are easy for most Americans to miss unless they check the FBI website, which has a running list of busts.
Last August in Alexandria, Va., a 17-year-old was sentenced to 11 years in prison and a lifetime of monitoring of his Internet activities after pleading guilty to conspiring to support Islamic State.
Also in August, the Brooklyn man, Abdurasul Hasanovich Juraboev, entered his guilty plea, admitting he hoped to go to Syria and join Islamic State. If he remained in the United States, Juraboev, an Uzbek-born U.S. resident, said he planned to either kill President Obama or bomb Coney Island.
The cases were among at least 15 cited by the FBI that month in which defendants were arrested, copped pleas or sentenced. They included cases in California, Mississippi, New Jersey and Kansas, as well as New York and Washington, D.C., and most involved Islamic State.
In the two weeks before the Paris attacks, the FBI announced arrests or guilty pleas in five cases involving Islamic State or Al Qaeda. On Thursday, Comey said no “credible” threats had been substantiated in the United States since the Paris violence.
New York City Police Commissioner William J. Bratton says that more than 20 terrorist plots have been foiled in the city since the 2001 attacks and that the city is the nation’s No. 1 terrorism target…