Leading Off (09/25/09)

1. I was feeling a bit like Yossarian (“They’re trying to kill me.”) when I saw the news about attempted bombings both here in Dallas and in the city of my birth. I’m grateful that the FBI actively seeks to head off would-be terrorists. But what struck me most in reading about both incidents is that these guys are probably like a lot of self-proclaimed jihadists: they’re just a couple of dumb kids.

2. Maybe I should have made the first item the third. It’s hard to segue into talking about the State Fair of Texas opening today. Except — well, what better way to celebrate the continuing triumph of American freedom over the forces of darkness than by shoveling corny dogs and fried butter down our gullets?

3. For those who plan to avoid the Fair’s opening weekend, Fort Worth is offering some counterprogramming Saturday with its Day in the District. Seven attractions are free. Including the Kimbell Art Museum, which will be unveiling its newest acquisition, “The Torment of Saint Anthony.” That doesn’t get you excited? What if I told you it’s a painting by Michelangelo, the only one to hang in the Western Hemisphere? A little more interested? Oh, who am I kidding? See you at the Fair.


  • Dallasite

    Bought the explosive, planted the bomb, and tried to detonate it… yeah, just some dumb kid.

    I really hope he doesn’t live long enough to become just some dumb adult.

  • Wm. B. Travis

    Most acts of violence are dumb, sir. You do the public no service in suggesting we dismiss the intended act due to the perp’s ignorance. I would suggest holding your inner-snark to yourself.

  • Peterk

    “they’re just a couple of dumb kids.” and they are no way exemplars of a certain “religion of peace”

    if the bomb had gone off would you have continued to call them “dumb kids”? Seriously many forget that we are at war. do a search for stories about young Somali-Americans missing from Minneapolis and suddenly turning up in Somalia dead fighting for a terrorist group

  • Lori

    How about the excitement generated by the fact the Day in the District includes an all day celebration of my DFW TV Childhood – Slam Bang Theatre and Icky Twerp!

  • TLS

    But you get bonus points for name-checking Yossarian.

  • Hmm, I enjoyed your inner-snark, and moreover I enjoyed it’s outward manifestation. I guess that’s why I read Frontburner. Sooo un-American of me.

  • Bill

    I’m glad some of you can have a sense of humor about the largest attempted mass murder in Dallas history. His single act would roughly equal all murders, from all years, in Dallas history combined.

  • Dumb kids can be horrifically dangerous. Dumb kids also are easily influenced. We must focus on fostering an environment, and helping other nations to foster an environment, where young people don’t grow up with the idea that true heroism means slaughtering others in the name of God.

    The thought that Al-Qaeda counts so heavily on the work of dumb kids gives me hope.

  • PR

    “they’re just a couple of dumb kids.”

    Dumb kids skip school, play with matches, throw spit wads and take their parents’ car out for a joy ride.

    This kid is evil, pure and simple, and should be punished accordingly. Life in prison with no parole.

  • Jason Meyer

    The Michelangelo painting is amazing. Especially when you consider that he was 12-13 when he painted it…

  • So you go on the internet and find yourself a dumb kid who wants to do something violent and stupid? Don’t worry, it won’t take long. The internet is full of them. Then you rile him up and befriend him. You tell him yes, death to America indeed! And now he has friends! And he’s the big, tough, awesome badass who is totally jihad all the way! So then you tell him that you can get him all the stuff he needs to make a bomb? Oh yeah and you can teach him how to make a bomb too? Neat! Of course some dumb kid is going to take you up on that. Just like a dumb kid will pick a fight with someone to impress the other tough kids.

    I doubt that this kid would have gotten much farther than “death to America!” on some message board had the FBI not set him up to prove himself. Not saying that kids who want to blow up buildings aren’t dangerous. But there’s plenty of people right now who want to bomb an abortion clinic or burn down their high school or whatever. Without the helpful assistance of the FBI to show them how to go about it and provide them with the materials (fake ones, of course), they will just be what this kid was. A dumbass trying to be eXXXXtreme about something and running his mouth on the big ol’ internet.

    I just don’t like the saber rattling of “ohhhh al-Qaeda’s comin’ to get us!” when I think you could set this same thing up with a kid who hates Wal-Mart because they fired him for being late to work. This kid has zero actual al-Qaeda contacts, from what I’ve read.

  • MG

    The free museums in Ft. Worth are part of National Museum Day. The Nasher Sculpture Center and Sixth Floor Museums are also free tomorrow:


  • I never even thought about asking the FBI to help me blow up and abortion clinic! Amanda, you’re brilliant!

  • CLS

    I am sure Amandacobra is a “truther”. After all 19 muslim men could not take down the WTC and Pentagon and completely shut down the airline system for days without the encouragement of President Bush and the evil Dick Cheney. That is exactly the attitude that will allow more attacks.

  • Biff Malibu

    Yeah, if he had only planned to blow up the Dallas Cowboys’ pass defense, well . . .

  • Not a “truther” in the least. Nor am I a “birther” or even a “tea partier”. Hell, I even think the Warren Report is right on. Not big on conspiracy theories.

    But you are right. My free thought will almost certainly lead to more terrorist attacks. Clearly.

  • Ellis

    “Dumb kids skip school, play with matches, throw spit wads and take their parents’ car out for a joy ride.”

    Really? When we were dumb kids we would blow stuff up in the back yard with great regularity, creating craters, spattering and pocking the neighbor’s windows with shrapnel (Ooops! Run!), firing M80-loaded potato bazookas, and generally playing army with great good realistic fun.

    It may only be the advent of videogames that in turn produces such a large population of Cheeto and lotus-eating teletubbies that is keeping us as safe as we are.

  • When I was a dumb kid, I once got my dad to eat mud. I also once superglued my sister’s hands to the kitchen table.

    I never thought to blow something up. I now feel as if I was woefully behind in the mischief department.

  • Brandon

    I’m surprised this did not warrant more national media attention.

  • Nate

    Read the Arrest Warrant and Criminal Complaint for this case. It details how extensive the work done by the FBI was. It is a textbook example of how good intel and investigation can prevent tragedies.

    I just wish I could have heard the kid’s reaction when his cell phone “detonator” dialed the FBI instead!!!!

  • Jody

    The arrest warrant suggests that the suspect was a bit more than a dumb kid. Evidently his only mistake was talking to the wrong people – and it just as easily could have been the right people. Of course then people would be griping that that the FBI had done nothing. But there are always those oblivious to the idea that some people watch through the night so they can sleep blissfully through theirs.

  • Dallasite


    He immigrated to the US for, what he claimed, the purpose of waging Jihad. The FBI didn’t encourage him, or provide him the means to do that.

    That’s just a smidge more than a disgruntled ex-Walmart employee b******* to his friends between bong hits.

    Buy what do I know, I’m just some dumb kid.

  • Neither party

    Calling a group dedicated to killing us because we are free is sabre rattling? Tea party participants are conspiracy theorists? I am sure you see the G20 protestors as just exercising civil disobedience….but those damn baby boomers at tea parties are stifling the American conversation.

  • rexthewonderdog

    Feeling pretty good about that move downtown about now?

  • Neither party

    Those kooky,crazy Terrorists…..

  • Dubious Brother

    Too bad “dumb kid” Hosam Maher Husein Smadi won’t get to go waterboarding with the American military as his hosts thanks to Barak Husein Obama. Instead he gets to play the quiet game with free legal representation.

  • The FBI sting culminated in Thursday’s arrest after Smadi parked a 2001 Ford Explorer Sport Trac, supplied by the FBI, in the garage

    The FBI provided him no means to carry this out?

  • I’m torn. The first thing I said upon hearing about this was that I wasn’t at all sure the charges would result in a conviction, because there could be an argument for entrapment.

    However, this is not a new thing, resorting to trickery to take someone out of circulation. Is it all that different from a police officer posing as a 13-year-old girl in a Yahoo chat room, agreeing to meet someone, and then that person getting arrested?

    This guy wasn’t just randomly picked off the street. He was on a Web site familiar to extremists, looking to jihad.

    So I dunno – how is he different from the guy who tries to meet a 13-year-old who is really a police officer?

  • Sky Masterson

    The fact that he attempted to detonate the bomb–despite the FBI agent’s telling him there were other, non-violent ways to commit jihad–shows how dangerous he was.

    The guy was trolling message boards looking for support to commit an act of mass terror. If the FBI hadn’t set him up with a fake bomb, Al Qaeda could very easily have set him him up with the real thing.