Donald Lambro

WASHINGTON -- The deadly bombing in Boston and the wave of terror plots in the United States since 9/11 lead inexorably to three conclusions: The terrorist threat is growing; al-Qaida has not been decimated, as President Obama told us in his 2012 campaign; and there are gaps in our security system that need to be repaired.

Two young terrorists proved last week how much death and mayhem they can cause, even with police on every street corner, in one of our major cities. They showed they could pierce our defenses with stunning ease, murdering three people and wounding more than 200 within seconds with small, low-grade, simple explosives left on a sidewalk.

The sad irony in the unfolding investigation is that the Russians warned us about Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the older of the two Chechen brothers who were granted U.S. asylum here in 2002. But the FBI found no evidence to justify Moscow's suspicions he had terrorist connections and the case was closed.

This was one of the first successful terrorist attacks on U.S. soil since 9/11. Yet in all the stories written about last week's Boston Marathon tragedy, little attention has been paid to the alarming number of plots that have preceded it.

Near the end of October 2012, a Heritage Foundation study said a foiled attempt to use a bomb-laden vehicle to blow up the Federal Reserve Bank in New York was the 53rd terrorist attempt since 9/11.

The number of attempted plots is accelerating at an alarming rate, proving that a growing army of combatants are in our midst, planning further attacks with the help of al-Qaida jihadists here and abroad.

"At least 53 publicly known Islamist-inspired terrorist plots against the U.S. have been thwarted since 9/11. Of these, 13 have involved New York City as a target, second only to domestic military targets, showing that terrorists continue to seek to strike at the heart of the U.S.," writes Jessica Zuckerman, a national security analyst at the Heritage think tank.

The terrorist who wanted to blow up the Fed's bank was a Bangladeshi citizen, 21-year-old Quazi Mohammad Rezwanul Ahsan Nafis, who came here on a student visa with the single-minded goal to kill as many Americans as he could with what he believed to be a 1,000-pound bomb inside a van.

Nafis sought out fellow al-Qaida operatives in the U.S. to help him execute the attack, but one of the people he recruited turned out to be an FBI informant -- part of an elaborate sting operation that has proved so successful in countless plots before.

Shortly before Nafis was arrested for attempting to set off the phony bomb, he revealed his plan in a chilling video in which he said, "We will not stop until we attain victory or martyrdom."

Donald Lambro

Donald Lambro is chief political correspondent for The Washington Times.