SAN CLEMENTE, CA—Five years after settling in southern California and trying to blend into American society, a six-man terrorist cell connected to the militant Islamist organization Army of Martyrs has reportedly grown too complacent to conduct its suicide mission, an attack on the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station.
According to cell leader and boat owner Jameel al-Sharif, the potentially devastating operation, which involves breaching the station's reactor core and triggering a meltdown that could rival the Chernobyl disaster, "can wait."
"We remain wholly committed to the destruction of America, the Great Satan," al-Sharif said. "But now is not a good time for us. The season finale of Lost was such a cliff- hanger that we have to at least catch the first episode of the new season. After that, though, death to the infidels."
"Probably," added al-Sharif, who noted that his nearly $6,000 in credit-card debt from recent purchases of a 52-inch HDTV and a backyard gas grill prevents him from buying needed materials for the attack.
Though the members of the cell said that they "live only to spill the blood of crusaders who oppress Muslims," they cited additional reasons for the delay, including an unexpired free Netflix trial and nagging lower-back pain.
"I think I'm entitled to a little time to fully enjoy the in-dash MP3 adapter and heads-up display that Allah, in His infinite wisdom, has seen fit to provide me with," munitions expert Mohammed Akram said of the 2006 Mercury Mariner that is intended to be used as a car bomb during the attack. "Also, I have nine months left on the lease. But after that, I am more than willing to load it with explosives and go to my glory in its all-leather interior and heated seats."
Cell member Sayyid al-Tantawi, a Cairo-born former physics professor who was able to obtain employment at San Onofre as a reactor technician, once routinely worked 18-hour days so he could secretly obtain security codes and detailed schematics of the facility. But since his promotion to senior project manager last November, al-Tantawi has grown accustomed to perks such as higher pay, mandatory vacation time, delegation of responsibilities, and long lunches with other managers.
"Don't get me wrong, I totally wish swift and painful death to all American pigs, especially that jerk [general manager] Dave [Landis]," al-Tantawi said. "But I'm no longer the new guy—why bust my ass all day long anymore? When I get home after a day at work, I don't savor staying up all night designing dirty-bomb triggering mechanisms like I did when I first got here. Sometimes I just want to pop in a CD by that soulful infidel Chris Daughtry and relax."
Al-Tantawi added that due to the sedentary nature of his job, he would have to "lose a few pounds, Allah willing" before being able to fulfill his most challenging task: infiltrating the reactor's spent fuel storage area and draining its coolant, thereby triggering a fire and releasing radioactive material.
Indeed, general preparedness appears to be the cell's greatest stumbling block.
"Five a.m. is when the facility is most vulnerable to attack, when the morning shift security personnel replace the overnight crew," said Adib Dhakwan, the cell's second-in-command. "Unfortunately, Starbucks doesn't open until six, and I don't know about you, but if I don't have that first cup of coffee, forget it."
Despite the terrorists' successful assimilation into American society, the FBI has been monitoring the activities of the "San Clemente Six" since late 2005. According to declassified intelligence documents, the cell's status was recently downgraded to "low risk," due in part to a near absence of cell phone chatter to parties other than Moviefone, and last month's online purchase of a hammock.