If Plan A was a terror attack in New York on New Year's Eve, that would have put Esteban Santiago/Aashiq Hammad closer to the kind of plot that ISIS was actively seeking.
Esteban Santiago’s initial destination may not have been Fort Lauderdale but New York City, where he had made a reservation to fly in on New Year’s Eve, authorities told ABC News.
But for some unknown reason, he canceled the flight and a few days later booked a one-way $278 ticket to Florida.
New York City counterterrorism officials are investigating Santiago’s plan to visit the city and whether he planned to stay in New York or transfer to another flight.
Officials believe that the highly visible presence of NYPD officers throughout the city on New Year’s Eve could have been an effective deterrent.
That is probably true. Alert status around that time would have been high. Santiago may have been a bit addled, but he knew what he was doing. That's another reason why the whole "Why was he allowed to keep his gun" angle that the media is pushing is a sideshow. If Hammad was able to change his plans for an attack because of added security, is there any doubt he could have found a way to get a gun?
Other Muslim terrorists have found a way to get hold of weapons even in countries with tight gun control. Hammad would have too.
With Esteban Santiago detained in Florida, authorities are investigating his claims — real or imagined — that he had been in contact with the ISIS terrorist group online.
Since the attack, investigators recovered his computer from a pawn shop, and the FBI is examining it to determine whether the alleged shooter created a jihadist identity for himself using the name Aashiq Hammad, according to officials familiar with the case.
Much of this is hairsplitting and nitpicking.
Hammad, well or unwell, appeared to have imitated the kind of attack that ISIS wanted. Whether or not he was really in contact with ISIS matters less than the problem that ISIS is able to inspire attacks by Muslims and Muslim converts in this country. Even if they might be unhinged.