* Richard Reid, the Shoe Bomber - Despite the stringent security measures in place at airports, Reid did the unthinkable, and managed to smuggle a bomb aboard an airplane. After being admonished once by a flight attendant for lighting a match, he was later found struggling with a fuse, another match, and one of his shoes. Next time you have to take your shoes off at the airport, remember this: every air traveler has had to undergo this inconvenience for several years now, because of a terrorist that couldn't detonate his own bomb.
* Gary McKinnon, Super-hacker - The US government is currently trying to extradite this Extremely Dangerous man from the UK. McKinnon broke into nearly a hundred military computer systems during 2001 and 2002, using advanced hacker techniques such as guessing default or blank passwords. He used his access to top-secret computer systems to delete some files, and search for information on alien life, which he believe NASA and the US government were hiding. Gary McKinnon is one of the most credible cyber-terrorists discovered to date.
* Iyman Faris - Suspected of plotting to destroy the Brooklyn Bridge. This would have been a tremendous disaster, on several levels. Luckily, the plot involved cutting the bridge's support cables with an acetylene torch, which would have taken some pretty serious time and effort, since the cables are necessarily pretty sturdy, and consist of thousands of individual wires.
* Najibullah Zazi - One of the most recent terrorists uncovered in the US, Zazi received terrorist training directly from al-Qaeda, including instructions on bomb making. Had he managed to construct a bomb, he could have done some serious damage. Unfortunately for him, he failed to build a bomb despite nearly a year of repeated attempts. Nevertheless, this is hailed by some as the most serious terrorist plot uncovered in the US since September 11th.
* The Fort Dix attackers - Their entire plan was to show up at a military base and kill as many people as possible. This could have been a really serious plot, if they'd managed to acquire the weapons the plot required. However, they made a few fatal blunders: they videotaped themselves firing automatic weapons and talking about the plot, and then sent the footage to a Circuit City to get it made into a DVD. They also attempted to buy their weapons from an FBI informant.
* Star Simpson - While picking up a friend at the airport while wearing a homemade nametag with blinking lights, Simpson was arrested by officers carrying submachine guns. For a few days, the media was in a frenzy, gleefully reporting it as a threat with a "fake bomb". They stopped talking about the situation, naturally without any kind of retraction, once it became clear that she wasn't actually any kind of threat. I feel safer already!
So remember, folks: terrorists are people you need to be afraid of. The next time you see a major terrorist plot being reported on the news, pay attention to the details - given the media's track record in this area, it's far more likely that they alleged terrorist is incompetent, insane, or just plain innocent.