The Model Planes That Could've Attacked the Pentagon

The FBI has described how a 26-year-old planned to turn toys into bombs

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Rezwan Ferdaus, a 26-year-old physicist, was arrested Wednesday for plotting to attack the Pentagon and Capitol using remote-controlled planes, as we reported yesterday. A look at the criminal complaint for the model-airplane attack details how exactly Ferdaus intended to use remote controlled planes as weapons of terror. Ferdaus had two separate devices, both historical models of American fighter planes, The F-86F Sabre and The F-4 Phantom, outfitted with explosives, planning on ramming the devices into the two buildings. Here's how the FBI says he planned to do it all.

Ferdaus obtained the two airplanes from, a site which describes itself as dedicated to Scale model airplane enthusiasts. "Its sole purpose is providing, as accurate as possible, aircraft of the different period for today’s scale builder with the scale accessories for completion of his miniaturized dream." He purchased three planes: Two Sabre F-86 remote controlled aircraft and one F-4 phantom aircraft.

The F86 was developed during the 1940s and used mostly in the Korean War, as ScaleRCModels describes. And the F-4 flew through Vietnam, according to the site. "Used to be United States Air Force, Navy, and Marines, as well as in many countries around the world, the F-4 Phantom saw extensive Action in Vietnam in the 1960's and 70's. It also has the distinction of being the only aircraft used by both the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds." Ferdaus's F-4 phantom scale claims to be the most accurate model out there. "The F-4 Phantom II represents the most accurate scale model of this aircraft ever put into kit format and received high static score at Top Gun in 1990."

Ferdaus had rigged 7 mobile phones using spark plugs and mechanical switches to act as electrical detonators for the planes. He had planned on programming the drone-like crafts to hit his targets and detonate on impact--the planes came with GPS, according to the report. "FERDAUS stated that he planned to attack the Pentagon using model airplanes similar to "small drone airplanes" filled with explosives and guided by global positioning system (“GPS”) equipment." While Ferdaus purchased 24 pounds of explosives, the planes had been filled with 5 pounds of plastic explosives each. "He planned to ues the remaining 9 pounds to blow up the bridges surrounding the Pentagon," explains the report. Once the planes went off, he then figured he could use the remaining explosives, 3 grenades, and 6 fully automatic AK-47 assault rifles to finish the job.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.