[…] The incompetence of terrorists has spared hundreds of lives in recent years. The recent attacks in Barcelona could have been much worse if the leader of the plot had not blown himself up – along with the network’s stockpile of bomb components – hours before they occurred.
Among the many failed incidents in the UK are attempts to bomb a cafe in Exeter (that failed when a bomber set off his own device in a toilet); to bomb a nightclub in London with incendiary devices (that smouldered but did not burn), and to bring down a transatlantic passenger jet (with a bomb in a shoe that proved impossible to ignite).
In the US, a massive blast was avoided in Times Square, New York, because the bomber programmed the wrong time, while in Yemen in 2000 an attempt to sink a US navy ship failed when a dinghy overloaded with explosives sank when it was launched.
The same goes for attacks by extremists motivated by other ideologies. Well under a half of the 150 far-right plots recorded by the Anti-Defamation League in the US between 1993 and 2016 succeeded. In Columbus, Ohio, in April 2016, a rightwing extremist blew off his own hands while allegedly making an explosive that authorities said was to be used as a diversion during a bank robbery.