Cleveland Bridge Terror Plot Averted

Five suspects have been arrested in a plot to blow up a Cleveland bridge.

Breaking news from CNN (“5 arrested in alleged plot to blow up Cleveland-area bridge“):

Five suspects, some of whom describe themselves as anarchists, were arrested after allegedly conspiring to blow up a bridge near Cleveland, the FBI said Tuesday.

“The public was never in danger from the explosive devices” because an undercover FBI agent was involved and the explosives were inert, the bureau said in a news release.

“The defendants were closely monitored by law enforcement,” it said.

Authorities say three of the men are self-proclaimed anarchists who had considered “a series of evolving plots over several months.”

The individuals allegedly conspired to acquire C-4 explosives and build two improvised explosive devices to be remotely detonated, according to the FBI.

My default position on these arrests is cynicism, in that so many have seemed to be self-licking lollipops in which the FBI finds some hapless stooges prone to mouthing off, conspires with them to create a full-fledged terrorist plot all the way to the point of acquiring dummy weapons, arrests them for plotting terrorism, and makes a big to-do about it in the press.

It is of course possible that this was a genuine terror plot and that the FBI actually saved American lives here. But I’ll need a bit more evidence of that before swallowing the story.

FILED UNDER: Terrorism, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. Herb says:

    “Self-licking lollipops.” I can’t believe I have never heard that term. What else am I missing?

    I do think “entrapment” is a concern, but on the other hand, I’m of the view that most terrorists in general are self-licking lollipops. You almost have to be. I mean, sure, blowing up buildings and trains and shooting up army bases might seem like a great way to expose Western decadence and advance the cause of Allah…but it ain’t.

    I’m curious to hear more details, though. Specifically their ethnicity. Anarchists? No mention of Al Qaeda? Probably white.

  2. Herb says:

    Yep…they got mugshots on the main page. They’re all white.

  3. Stan25 says:

    I am surprised the Southern Poverty Law Center hasn’t piped up and called them extreme right wing militias.

  4. Herb says:

    @Stan25: Give em time….could be OWS people too, though.

    The group initially planned to “topple financial institution signs atop high rise buildings in downtown Cleveland” while co-conspirators used smoke grenades to distract law enforcement, according to the FBI.

    They got busted after they planted the fake bombs, so it’s not exactly a joke.

  5. mattb says:


    I am surprised the Southern Poverty Law Center hasn’t piped up and called them extreme right wing militias.

    As opposed to the Right Wing Media folks who might be associating these folks with islamofascists if they had darker skin tones?

    I would hope that folks would learn not to rush to judgement in these situations after getting so many wrong on both side. Further, attempting to using a lack of rush to judgement as a tool to attack political enemies is equally unsightly.

  6. mattb says:

    Actually, I full expect that the right wing spin is that these are radical anti-capitalistic marxist leftists inspired by Obama.

  7. Matt says:

    Silly anarchists, bombs are for governments.

  8. Franklin says:

    If I recall correctly, JJ subscribes to a theory that the political spectrum is more of a big circle … if you go far enough left or right, you meet up again in crazy land. That’s where these self-described anarchists live. They have little to do with the rest of us who are mostly different shades of purple.

  9. James Joyner says:

    @Franklin: Yes. “Anarchists”–especially of the bomb planting variety–are just crazies. It’s an extreme version of both leftist and rightist anti-state sentiments but it’s silly to discuss them as if they’re a logical continuation of either.

  10. michael reynolds says:

    I think the real concern here is that they have correctly identified society’s weak point, the one place where all of the threads of our civilization converge forming the vital nexus without which every institution must crumble: a bridge in Cleveland.

  11. Jenos Idanian says:

    Let’s not jump to conclusions just yet. So far, only two of the arrested people — Brandon Baxter and Anthony Hayne — have been directly tied to the Occupy movement. That leaves three who could be part of the far more dangerous Tea Party movement.

  12. @michael reynolds:

    a bridge in Cleveland

    I dunno, what if the bridge falls into one of Cleveland’s highly flammable rivers?

  13. mattb says:

    @Jenos Idanian: Thanks for proving my point.

    So, open question, is there anything that cannot be exploited by one side or the other to score points?

  14. Inga H. says:

    Kudos for the FBI, wonder where they were for the other major terrorist plots against America, like the Oklahoma bombing, or 911. Should I even bother asking? Seems too convenient too easy too suspicious. Try duping some other sheeple. Can you say Reichtag anyone, or Nazification of Amerika. Get ready to lose your civil liberties, find peace with God.

  15. mattb says:

    @Inga H.:

    Can you say Reichtag anyone

    Of course, the big difference is that the Reichtag burned.

    So out of curiosity, is your prediction that Obama will declare martial law and then stop the elections? Are we all going to end up in FEMA re-education camps?

  16. michael reynolds says:

    Is there a rewards program for FEMA re-education camps? Because I might be able to transfer my Hyatt points and get an upgrade.

  17. Jenos Idanian says:

    @michael reynolds: I looked into going to one of those once, but they didn’t host a lot of my favorite activities — sailing, archery, pole-vaulting, javelin…

    Although they did have one listing for “javelin catching” that almost intrigued me, briefly…

  18. Inga H. says:

    I am not predicting the future but stuck in the past, in particular WW2 and in shock and awe of those brave 19 year old pilots of Yankee Flying Fortresses, ( also Brits, Canadians, Aussies ) who were responsible for massive bombers and their crew. America was free back then and considered heroes. I am not sure what will happen tomorrow, or next week, but am looking on with curiosity as history is playing out and not believing everything that the media spews out. We should all think for ourselves and not jump to conclusions.

    And on the topic of planes and destruction, I am still seeking a reasonable answer to why the twin towers of 911 were pulverized to dust. What a mystery. I heard someone say jet fuel. I ask, if jet fuel is so volatile and destructive, why don’t commercial planes immediately disintegrate into dust whenever there is a fatal crash. Just wondering and not trying to challenge anyone’s ideas about their government.

  19. Dazedandconfused says:

    @Inga H.:

    They many times do largely disintegrate into dust and ash, if there is a concentrated fire. File this away: Any metal that ends in “ium” can burn. Not all fatal crashes result in that sort of fire though, sometimes the wreckage and fuel are scattered over a pretty wide area, diffusing the heat.

    This should not be taken in any way to suggest that our government didn’t destroy the Twin Towers on 911 of course, we all know there is no other rational explanation. The aliens were all on Titan that day.