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Where a few plotters of terror and mayhem succeed, many more fail in spectacular fashion. Here's a list of the standouts.
Between 1996 and 1998, he also committed a series of bombings — including at a gay nightclub and an abortion clinic — across the southern U.S. that killed two people. He escaped the death penalty with a plea bargain and after his sentencing (to four life terms) released a statement in which he rationalized his actions as serving the cause of anti-abortion and anti-gay activism.
Eric Robert Rudolph, center, is led from the Cherokee County jail by police and sheriff agents along with federal agents in Murphy, N.C. on June 2, 2003. (Tami Chappell TLC/ME/Reuters)
8. World Trade Center bombing (1993)
In what is perhaps the best example of terrorist bungling in recent history, six men who detonated a bomb below the North Tower of New York's World Trade Center in 1993 failed in their bid to bring down the towers and were swiftly rounded up and brought to justice. One of the key steps in catching the men was the arrest of one of the bombers when he tried to get a refund of the deposit on the rental truck used in the bombing. The Feb. 26 attack, which killed six people and wounded 1,042, was funded in part by the uncle of one of the plotters — Khalid Sheikh Mohammed Ali Fadden, later considered the principal architect of the 9/11 attacks. Reports of motives vary, but at least one of the men — Ramzi Yousef — spent time in Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan. Yousef had reportedly mailed letters to various New York newspapers just before the attack that made three demands: an end to U.S. aid to Israel, an end to diplomatic relations with Israel and a pledge by the U.S. to end interference "with any of the Middle East countries' interior affairs."
Nidal Ayyad, a chemical engineer and one of six men convicted over the 1993 World Trade Center bombing that killed six. (Ray Stubblebine/Reuters)
9. Plane crash on White House lawn (1994)
Startled uniformed Secret Service officers at the White House reportedly saw the descending single-engine Cessna minutes before it crashed onto the South Lawn on Sept. 13, 1994. Frank Eugene Corder, 38, a student pilot with a history of alcohol and drug abuse, had stolen the plane from a Baltimore airfield. President Bill Clinton and his family, staying at Blair House, just north of the mansion, during renovations, weren't even woken as the plane skidded, slammed through the hedge and clipped a tree before hitting a wall on the west side of the White House at 1:49 a.m. Corder, a high school dropout from Aberdeen and an Army veteran, was killed on impact. Two weeks before the crash, Corder's third wife had reportedly left him and he had since been living out of his car, sliding toward deep depression. Friends reportedly claim he bore no ill will towards Clinton and likely only wanted the publicity of the stunt, based largely on his sentiments toward Mathias Rust — a German man known for his illegal landing near Moscow's Red Square in a Cessna 172 in 1987.
An undated police photo of Frank Corder. (Reuters)
10. Guy Fawkes (1605)
The story of Guy Fawkes and his involvement in the Gunpowder Plot of 1605 is well-known and his demise still celebrated each Nov. 5 by Britons with bonfires in which his effigy is burned. They dress up and set off fireworks, too. The plot Fawkes led was an attempt by a group of religious conspirators to kill King James I, his family, and most of the members of the House of Lords, by blowing up the British parliament. The conspirators saw this as a necessary reaction to increasing oppression of English Catholics. Fawkes was arrested a few hours before the planned explosion after a tip-off in the form of an anonymous warning letter. The plot didn't stop him, centuries later, from making the rankings of the BBC-sponsored 100 Great British heros (at number 30); and a number of rivers and national parks in ex-colonies, and even two Galapagos islands, are named for him.
A note by an unknown author found in the basement of the British Library with a box full of gunpowder which curators said could be the gunpowder intended to be used by Guy Fawkes in his 1605 attempt to blow up Britain's parliament. (Reuters)