The Radio-Controlled Airplane Jihad

Did you know a homegrown radicalized Muslim was just arrested for plotting to fly remote-controlled airplanes full of high explosives into the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol, as part of his long-term plan to help al-Qaeda wage “jihad” against the “enemies of Allah?”

You might have heard about the remote control planes and the explosives.  Rezwan Ferdaus, a 26-year-old Northeastern University physics graduate who lived in Massachusetts, was busted by the FBI after he tried to purchase explosives from undercover agents.  He was planning to turn some large model airplanes – the kind that barely fit into a car trunk once they’ve been assembled – into GPS-guided missiles.

You almost certainly have not heard Ferdaus described as a Muslim or jihadist in headlines.  Instead, a number of rather clever descriptions have been deployed by the media.  The best one comes from CBS News, which describes him as a “Mass. musician.”  Ferdaus was the drummer for a band called “The Silk Road,” you see.  He was a Mass. musician bent on mass murder.

Ferdaus is also widely described as a “Massachusetts man” or an “Ashland man.”  At the time of his arrest, the U.S. District Attorney for Massachusetts, Carmen Ortiz, released an unusually pointed statement: “I want the public to understand that Mr. Ferdaus’ conduct, as alleged in the complaint, is not reflective of a particular culture, community, or religion.”  With the possible exception of Massachusetts musicians, who can apparently be associated with brutal acts of terrorism without fear of lasting injury to their reputations.

“In addition to protecting our citizens from the threats and violence alleged today,” Ortiz continued, “we also have an obligation to protect members of every community, race, and religion against violence and other unlawful conduct.”  Ah, yes.  The real danger isn’t bomb-wielding terrorists, it’s the lingering threat of the fabled “anti-Muslim backlash” that never comes.  Thank heavens Ferdaus was taken down before he could spark a backlash!

Say, isn’t the perpetual assumption that angry lynch mobs are on the verge of forming in flyover country “reflective of a particular culture, community, or religion?”  I guess we’re all one Improvised Explosive Device away from becoming Massachusetts musicians.

Rezwan Ferdaus was one determined Ashland man.  He’d been planning his big terror attack for two years, while living with his parents, as is now customary for 26-year-olds.  He dabbled in the usual all-American high school hijinks with his friends, such as burning flags and sealing the high school doors with concrete.  He had already performed careful surveillance of his targets in Washington, and selected launch sites for his drone bombs.

He was planning to do a lot more than fly some model airplanes on the Big Day.  He gave undercover FBI agents posing as al-Qaeda recruiters cell phones he had modified to serve as triggers for improvised explosive devices, which he hoped they would deploy against American soldiers.  He even produced a training video for making IEDs.  When the undercover agents told him one of his cell-phone detonators had killed three U.S. troops, he said, “That was exactly what I wanted!”

At the time of his arrest, he took delivery on twenty-five pounds of C-4, plus three hand grenades and six fully automatic AK-47 assault rifles.  How was he going to hang those assault rifles off model airplanes?  Oh, those weren’t meant for the planes.  He was planning to recruit more “Massachusetts musicians” to use the guns on survivors fleeing his bomb blasts.

Told that his big jihad plan would likely result in the death of women and children, Ferdaus allegedly replied, “I just can’t stop.  There is no other choice for me.”  Does anyone still think it’s a waste of time trying to discover how many other members of no particular culture, community, or religion might feel that way? 

A man who has taken considerable grief for making that attempt, Rep. Peter King (R-NY), said after the remote-controlled airplane jihadist was arrested:

The fact that Ferdaus is a very well-educated physicist should serve as a reminder to us that the threat of Islamic terrorism transcends socioeconomics and does not only emanate from the poor and under-privileged. 

Ferdaus’ arrest also underscores the need to continue efforts to combat domestic radicalization and the evolving threat of ‘lone wolf’ extremists.

As long as those efforts don’t hurt anyone’s feelings, that is.  According to a report in the U.K. Guardian, “some legal organizations and Muslim groups” are already quite upset about the FBI’s habit of nailing budding terrorists before they get to vaporize anyone:

However, some legal organisations and Muslim groups have questioned whether Ferdaus, whose activities were carried out with two undercover FBI agents posing as terrorists, would have been able to carry out such a sophisticated plot if left to his own devices. In numerous previous cases in the US, the FBI has been accused of over-zealousness in its investigations and of entrapping people into terror plots who might otherwise not have carried out an attack.

“It deeply concerns us. It is another in a pattern of high-profile cases. Would this person have conceived or executed this plot without the influence of the FBI?” said Heidi Boghosian, president of the National Lawyers Guild.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations also expressed its concern and wondered if more details would later emerge at trial that showed the full scale of the FBI involvement in setting up the sting. “There is a big, big difference between a plot initiated by the FBI and a plot initiated by a suspect, and it seems this might have been initiated by the FBI,” said Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR’s director of communications.

Here’s a little advice for CAIR: why don’t you circulate some pamphlets telling young people to say “no” when undercover FBI agents posing as al-Qaeda recruiters ask if they could make some cell-phone detonators to kill American soldiers, and in return offer to provide them with enough explosives to take out the Pentagon?

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