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Sat, Oct 01, 2011

FBI Thwarts R/C Model 'Terrorist Attack'

Says US Citizen Planned To Pack R/C Models With Explosives

General Aviation advocates have been alarmed at the TSA's continued mission creep into light aircraft, despite the fact that terrorists don't appear interested in using them for attacks. Maybe TSA just didn't think small enough. In Boston, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz says a suspect has been charged with planning attacks on the US Capitol and the Pentagon using radio-controlled model airplanes filled with plastic explosives.

Rezwan Ferdaus is a 26-year-old US citizen who was arrested after an undercover operation in which he allegedly worked with FBI agents he thought were agents of al Qaeda. He has also been charged with attempting to provide support and resources to al Qaeda to carry out attacks on US soldiers overseas.

An FBI affidavit states, "Ferdaus, a Northeastern University graduate with a degree in physics, began planning to commit a violent “jihad” against the US in early 2010. He obtained mobile phones, each of which he modified to act as an electrical switch for an IED. He then supplied the phones to FBI UCs, who he believed to be members of, or recruiters for, al Qaeda.

"According to the affidavit, Ferdaus believed that the devices would be used to kill American soldiers overseas. During a June 2011 meeting, he appeared gratified when he was told that his first phone detonation device had killed three US soldiers and injured four or five others in Iraq. Ferdaus responded, 'That was exactly what I wanted.'"

Regarding the model airplane phase of the threat, the FBI stressed that actual explosives never left the possession of its undercover agents.

A statement from the US Department of Justice suggests that Ferdaus thought it would be possible to bomb the Pentagon with the model planes, then take control of the facility with a few armed individuals, crowd survivors of the attack into an ever-decreasing space, and "dominate" them. Authorities say that in recorded conversations, the suspect "envisioned causing a large “psychological” impact by killing Americans, including women and children, who he referred to as “enemies of Allah.”

According to the affidavit, Ferdaus’ desire to attack the United States is so strong that he confided, “I just can't stop; there is no other choice for me.”

The DoJ says Ferdaus faces up to 15 years in prison on a charge of material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization; up to 20 years in prison on a charge of attempting to destroy national defense premises; and a five year minimum mandatory term in prison and up to 20 years on a charge of attempting to damage and destroy buildings that are owned by the United States, by using an explosive. On each charge Ferdaus also faces up to three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.

DoJ made a point of noting Ferdaus is considered innocent until proven guilty in the courts, and that the arrest should not be used as an excuse for any retaliatory violence against any religious or ethnic group.

FMI: Reuters Report ; FBI Affidavit ; DoJ Statement

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