Man Accused of Planning Model Airplane Attack on Pentagon, Capitol

A man was arrested yesterday for what police allege was a plot to use plastic C4 explosives affixed to model planes to attack the Pentagon and the Capitol building. Rezwan Ferdaus, a U.S. citizen from Ashland, Massachusetts, had graduated from Northeastern University in Boston with a physics degree.

According to news reports, Ferdaus rigged mobile devices to set off the improvised explosive devices, and gave them to FBI agents whom he thought to be agents of al Qaeda. He went through elaborate preparations to launch the attack, devising thorough plans and selecting the park from which he would launch the planes.

So you know what that means: TSA will no longer let you take your model airplane in carry-on luggage.

No, more seriously, I’m interested to see whether this case bears any similarities to last year’s conviction of the “Newburgh Four,” four men who “made plans” to blow up a synagogue with a great deal of help from an FBI agent. Many, myself included, argued that the sting amounted to entrapment: None of the men had a driver’s license, the agent enticed them with promises of a big cash payout, and he even had to assemble the explosives for them. But because they were willing to go along with this FBI plot, they were arrested and now reside in jail for life.

Prosecutors claim Ferdaus had planned the scheme himself, and that he repeatedly said he had “no other choice” but to kill Americans because they were “enemies of Allah.” Prosecutors said the government learned about the plot when Ferdaus contacted a federal informant for help with his plot. They also say that the physics grad was given several opportunities to jump ship: "Although Ferdaus was presented with multiple opportunities to back out of his plan, including being told that his attack would likely kill women and children . . . Ferdaus never wavered in his desire to carry out the attacks," the Justice Department said in a statement.

I hope we’ll learn more about the inception of this plot as more details emerge. But for right now, what’s your take – entrapment or a sting?

Posted by Laura Williams on Sep 29, 2011

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