More Arrests Terrorist Plots to Attack Using Small 'Toy Drones'
June 29, 2013
& National Public Radio
German officials say they've uncovered a radical Islamist plot to use remote-controlled model airplanes packed with explosives to carry out terrorist attacks in Germany. This follows the 2011 arrest of a US citizen who was charged with planning a "drone" attack on the Pentagon. (The alleged "terrorist," 26-year-old Rezwan Ferdaus of Ashland, Mass., was arrested after undercover FBI agents provided him with encouragement and expertise to carry out the "plot.")
Germany Says It's Uncovered Terrorist Plot Using Model Planes
Soraya Sarhaddi Nelson / National Public Radio
(June 25, 2013) -- German officials say they've uncovered a radical Islamist plot to use remote-controlled model airplanes packed with explosives to carry out terrorist attacks in Germany.
Police carried out nine predawn raids in southern and eastern Germany as well as Belgium in search of evidence of what prosecutors allege was a plan for a "serious, state-threatening act of violence." There were no arrests.
The prosecutors say the plan involved at least two men, both of Tunisian origin. German N-TV says it interviewed neighbors of one of the men, who lives in a Munich apartment with his German wife. The neighbors described him as friendly but private.
Neither the suspects nor the targets of the planned attacks were identified by German authorities.
Attacks by Islamist extremists are rare in Germany, although in 2011, a Kosovo native who grew up in Germany fatally shot two U.S. airmen and wounded two others on a bus at Frankfurt International Airport.
It's also not the first time a foiled terrorist plot involved toy aircraft. Last November, Rezwan Ferdaus of Ashland, Mass., was sentenced to 17 years in prison for planning to fly remote-controlled model planes packed with explosives into the Pentagon and US Capitol.
Alleged Terrorist Acquired Small Arsenal For Attack, FBI Says
Mark Memmott / NPR
(September 29, 2011) -- More details are emerging about the alleged plot and the alleged would-be terrorist who the FBI says planned to attack the Pentagon and Capitol Building with explosives-laden small aircraft and thought he had given devices to al-Qaida operatives that could be used to kill US soldiers stationed overseas.
Those details include the weapons and other materials that the FBI says 26-year-old Rezwan Ferdaus of Ashland, Mass., acquired (with undercover operatives' assistance).
From the affidavit filed by the FBI Wednesday:
* Ferdaus acquired "one remote controlled aircraft (F-86 Sabre), 25 pounds of C-4 explosives, 6 fully-automatic AK-47 assault rifles (machine guns), and grenades."
* Ferdaus told undercover FBI investigators he wanted to "decapitate" the nation's "military center" and "severely disrupt ... the head and heart of the snake."
* He said "he realized more than a year ago from viewing jihadi websites and videos 'how evil' America is and that jihad is the solution."
* "Ferdaus has designed, built, and supplied more than 7 mobile phones, each of which Ferdaus had modified to act as an electrical switch for an improvised explosive device, to FBI undercover employees, who Ferdaus believed were members of, and recruiters for, al Qaeda, to purportedly be used to kill American soldiers stationed overseas."
According to the FBI, because Ferdaus was unknowingly dealing with undercover FBI personnel, "the public was never in danger from the explosive devices. ... The defendant was closely monitored as his alleged plot developed and the [undercover operatives] were in frequent contact with him."
A physics graduate of Northeastern University, Ferdaus is a US citizen who was living in the basement of the home his family had moved into about 14 years ago, according to CBS Boston. There's no word yet on where his family had lived before that.
He has been charged with plotting to "damage or destroy the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol" and with "attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, specifically to al Qaeda, in order to carry out attacks on US soldiers stationed overseas," the FBI says.
As for whether the small aircraft Ferdaus allegedly acquired is capable of delivering a lethal payload, CNN reports that:
"The threat from remote-controlled aircraft needs to be put in some perspective. Even 20 pounds of high explosive might not inflict devastating structural damage on a building -- especially if it were reinforced like the Pentagon. By comparison, the devastating 1995 Oklahoma City bomb involved 2.5 tons of explosive packed into the back of a truck -- although much of that was a more basic form of ammonium nitrate and fuel oil.
"Even so, the force of a few pounds of C4 in a confined and crowded space such as a sports stadium or outdoor concert venue could produce mass casualties."
The FBI affidavit says that using a public library's computers, "Ferdaus located a number of websites that sold remote controlledplanes and learned that such planes could carry approximately 38 to 42 pounds."
It adds that he allegedly planned to get three small planes and put 5 pounds of explosive on each. Ferdaus wanted to put 9 pounds of explosives on "bridges surrounding the Pentagon," the affidavit alleges.
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