September 29th, 2011
08:06 AM ET

Analysis: Model planes as weapons of terror

By Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister, CNN

The F-86 Sabre was a fighter jet that played a pivotal role in the Korean War. And it was a model of that plane – packed with high explosive – that Rezwan Ferdaus allegedly planned to use to launch his own war against iconic targets in Washington D.C.

Miniature versions of the plane – 5 feet 6 inches long – can easily be acquired for less than $200 from websites serving model plane enthusiasts.

"Provides authoritative rudder control so you can execute point rolls and knife-edge flight with precision," reads the promotion material for the model on one website.

According to the affidavit in the case against Ferdaus, one of these F-86 models was delivered in August to a storage facility in Framingham, Massachusetts that he had rented under a false name to build his attack planes and maintain all his equipment.

Ferdaus was arrested Wednesday in Ashland, a small town just to the west of Boston "in connection with his plot to damage or destroy the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol, using large remote controlled aircraft filled with C-4 plastic explosives," according to a press statement from the Massachusetts U.S. District Attorney's Office.

The idea of using model planes and similar devices in terror attacks is unusual but not unprecedented.

Christopher Paul, a Columbus Ohio resident pleaded guilty in 2008 to planning terrorist attacks in the United States and Europe. According to the indictment in that case, Paul conducted research from 2006 on a variety of remote-controlled models, including a boat and a 5-foot long helicopter. Paul was accused of joining al Qaeda in the early 1990s.

Ferdaus allegedly planned to fill three remote controlled aircraft - which he referred to as "small drone airplanes" - with explosives, launch them from the east Potomac park, and guide them by GPS into their targets.

In some ways, the idea echoes – albeit in primitive fashion – the growing use by the United States and other governments of unmanned drones for surveillance and missile strikes against terrorist targets. The use of drones has had a dramatic impact in the campaign against al Qaeda and other terror groups in Pakistan – and is now being expanded to the Horn of Africa.

Hezbollah, the Shiite militia in Lebanon, reportedly carried out an armed drone attack on an Israeli naval vessel during the 2006 Lebanon war. The Haaretz newspaper reported at the time that the ship was attacked by an explosives-laden drone, which would have been undetected by radar. Four Israeli sailors were killed.

The notion that terrorists could use their own crude versions of pilotless drones might seem fantastical to some – a scenario dreamt up and posted on blogs by radio-controlled aircraft hobbyists in their darker moments.

But advances in remote-control technology mean that there are now a wide variety of easily purchased machines that terrorists might contemplate using for strikes in the United States.

One remote-controlled helicopter that retails online for $10,000 in the U.S. is described as capable of lifting a payload of at least 20 lbs. (9 kg.) It can be accessorized with a built-in camera providing real-time video transmitted back to the controller, a feature which would be of obvious help to terrorists seeking to home in on a target – and record a propaganda video of the attack at the same time.

In 2006, a Maryland teacher, Ali Asad Chandia, was convicted of trying to acquire an electronic automatic pilot system for a model aircraft on behalf of the Pakistani terror group Lashkar e Tayiba. The system contains a stability and control computer that can be programmed to fly a plane with a 10-12 foot wingspan using GPS co-ordinates and can be programmed to turn a video camera on and off when the plane reaches certain locations.

Such advances, combined with precise mapping services like Google Earth, may also provide terrorist operatives with opportunities to strike targets several miles away. However, remote detonation of C4, a very stable explosive insensitive to most physical shocks, carried on a model plane would be a challenge.

As long ago as 2007, Senator Charles Schumer D-New York said of model planes: "They present a real danger. The difficulty is figuring out how to regulate them."

Rep. John Mica R -Florida has also expressed concern in the past, saying in 2006: "They can carry explosives...even of more concern would be carrying small amounts of chemical or biological material."

Ferdaus, a Northeastern University graduate with a degree in physics, is alleged to have planned a simultaneous ground assault involving six gunmen. Unbeknown to him as he developed the plan was that "accomplices" he was in touch with were FBI undercover agents.

"I just can't stop; there is no other choice for me," he confided to one of them as he prepared the attack, according to the press statement. The agents handed over explosives and weapons just before they arrested him.

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.

There is also the psychological impact of using remote-controlled aircraft against high-profile targets.

According to U.S. authorities, Ferdaus anticipated that the model planes would have a large "psychological" impact by killing Americans, including women and children, whom he referred to as "enemies of Allah."

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  16. skinned knee

    put a GPS mounted on my wheelchair... hmmm. should I be looking over my shoulder? Anothere creative knothead locked up!!! OH! about that yellow press , has anyone looked to see if old man HEARST IS IN HIS HOLE!!!!

    October 3, 2011 at 8:39 am | Reply
  17. Shimon Cleopas

    1.A sure way to stop terrorism at home and abroad is to catch the real Satan which will liberate America from false accusation of Big Satan.

    2.Mary’s rocket science formula of 5 loaves not only catches the bad fish (Satan) but also the good fish (Jesus Christ).

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    Regards from the small boy

    October 2, 2011 at 8:10 am | Reply
    • Ashley

      Dont worry small boy, size isnt everything

      October 2, 2011 at 4:27 pm | Reply
  18. brown

    Security is still very lax in most places ... the odds are still favorable when delivering a truck bomb.

    October 1, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Reply
  19. Kurlymon

    I have several ducted fan RC aircraft that I fly (crap, now I'll be investigated), I have tried to add less than one pound, probably closer to .25lbs of add-ons such as plastic under wing model missles. The added weight almost doubled take off distance and cut flight time by half. I'm all for locking this jackass up or giving him a third eye, but that model aircraft or any model aircraft that I've ever seen simply CANNOT carry enough explosives to be truely dangerous.

    September 30, 2011 at 10:39 pm | Reply
    • lou50

      thanks, did you read that lame letter the AMA put out with the FBI report attached. they didn't even try to debunk the story and show the FBI up for the idiots they are. Your letter was better than what the AMA put out. Plus this CNN story is miss leading saying one was already packed. They should have treated this clown for the delusional person he is and get him on medication. read the part where the FBI was dumb enough to talk him out of trying to develop his own explosives. now if that wasn't a red flag to him that he was not dealing with serious enablers.

      October 2, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Reply
    • WillH021

      Me too. I fly remote control airplanes, and from my experience, you simply cannot find enough space to put C4 into a plane. Also, the plane would get much heavier, making it need more power, which they do not have. Also the planes would not be able to make if very far and definitely will not be able to fly from a park, over trees and to a target with a novice at the controls. Believe it or not, these planes are harder to fly even with a general knowledge of flight, there are many other factors and skills needed to know and have to fly.

      October 3, 2011 at 10:44 am | Reply
    • mack

      More stuff and nonsenze from Terror Inc and their hired guns, the lame stream media. Any RC enthusiast knows these things can't carry payloads capable of any real damage (unless you count denting your car with one, or maybe getting the propellers/rotors stuck in your hair, necessitating a new hairdo). I think they are more afraid of the photo/video capabilities than any dangerous payloads. Camera technology gets smaller all the time, and lord knows the govt wouldn't want the public to be able to see what they're really up to! Oh and the idiot reporter above who claimed terrorists could use video to BOTH guide the unit while also recording a propaganda video has no clue what their talking about. The video guidance I've seen only displays on the flight controller but you can't record it unless you mount a separate camera with an SD card...and that adds weight, which effects flight capabilities and time in the air (reduces battery/fuel faster). Hell, these things can't even stream live video to the internet, yet. The OWS street kids found that out when they tried to use the quadcopter drones for citizen journalism.

      January 11, 2012 at 8:22 pm | Reply
  20. David

    So where do we go from here? Do we card everyone who buys a model aircraft? Do background checks on hobbyists? Allow the FBI to come in and check our workshop because we bought a model of a military jet? I know where I can buy a bicycle capable of carrying 200 lbs across a city... lets ban bicycles.

    September 30, 2011 at 7:39 pm | Reply
  21. Simon Jester

    Isn't it funny how almost every plot ion the last 10 years has the FBI, ATF, et all providing material support to wanna be terrorists? Maybe we should open up a federal employee wing at Gitmo because it's quite apparent that the federal government hates our freedom (what little is left of it).

    US of of North America !!!

    September 30, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Reply
  22. Unrepentant Westerner

    The predator UAV that the military uses is the size of a conventional aircraft because that is what it takes to get the job done. A model with a 4 foot or 5 foot wingspan isn't going to be able to care enough to be more than expensive fireworks.

    Either the reporters have been duped, or they are too lazy to do a little basic research.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:32 am | Reply
    • WillH021

      Apart from the fact that these planes cannot get the job done, there are also many other things that pilots have to know in order to fly remote control airplanes.

      October 3, 2011 at 10:46 am | Reply
  23. Jon Michael

    Model planes don't kill people; people kill people. Perhaps we should force them to make arbitrary cosmetic changes to the model planes, and limit the size of their fuel tank?

    September 30, 2011 at 11:23 am | Reply
  24. stssa

    I dont believe any of this. He chooses fan jets, with high wing loading? that barely lifts off the ground while its empty. and load them up with GPS, servos, esc, ducted fan and motor, servos and lipo battery and some explosives and then lift off with all that stuff.

    September 30, 2011 at 11:13 am | Reply
    • WillH021

      Yea. Plus he'll only get 2minutes of flight if he doesn't bur out his engine, esc, or battery. Face it, every beginner likes to do full throttle no matter what, its all or nothing for them.

      October 3, 2011 at 10:48 am | Reply
  25. DeLeon supporter

    This is why assault planes should be banned. Planes modeled after the f-4 phantom have only one purpose and that is to kill. There needs to be a plane registry and ten day waiting period for all model plane transactions. We need to close the hobby show loophole.

    I'm not against hobby planes, I even have a biplane model I take out from time to time. I don't know why hobbyists have to go for the more militaristic designs, it gives the rest of us a bad name.

    September 30, 2011 at 10:11 am | Reply
    • Air Boss

      Give me a break! Why don't we ban automoblies, after all they can be used as car bombs. Or how about the GPS controlled combines or tractors in the midwest. They can't be safe! The last thing we would want to see is a runaway combine loaded with C4 headed toward a highly populated area. Don't blame model aviation, blame the idiot trying to work the plan. There will always be something we have to worry about. We can't put our lives on hold living in fear. They win if we do. "Keep em flying"!!!!!!!!!

      September 30, 2011 at 10:31 am | Reply
      • Unrepentant Westerner

        Air Boss, I think he was kidding. Don't stress.

        September 30, 2011 at 11:26 am |
      • Doritos

        Can't tell if trolling or just very stupid

        September 30, 2011 at 4:34 pm |
  26. Grumpster

    The interesting thing about these planes is that they can be sent over fairly long distances between end points with several remote controls placed along the way as it passes out of range of one and into another. They can also auto-pilot for a ways until it reaches another controller/operator. I knew of hobby clubs that would send a plane from one side of Wisconsin to another, only occasionally losing one over Lake Michigan when it went slightly off course. It's just another cheap drone option that has likely been thought of long ago, but brought into the spotlight by an idiot radical and a fearmongering CNN.

    September 30, 2011 at 8:49 am | Reply
  27. Bill in Denver

    Uh, guys, it's not the model airplanes that are the weapons of terror, it's the C4.

    September 30, 2011 at 8:43 am | Reply
    • 2011cnn2011

      toy planes lol.........these dumb terrorists know its planes....toy plane us and we will nuke there A$$!

      October 2, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Reply
  28. george smythson

    Let's not let the facts get in the way of a yellow sheet journalism story designed to instill fear in those that don't know any better... No wonder CNN is losing it's audience.

    September 30, 2011 at 7:11 am | Reply
  29. silvereagle

    Disperse a little sarin gas and you can kill thousands.Don't tell me this can't be done.It can and has been tested with inert gases.

    September 30, 2011 at 6:14 am | Reply
    • me

      Freakin' paranoid idiots......

      September 30, 2011 at 6:41 am | Reply
    • Gregpeck

      was barbie or ken or GI Joe flying the plane

      September 30, 2011 at 6:50 am | Reply
    • Faizalnx

      Posted on i know i am kind of late but please i just got to win i read the hnuger game book already i never won anything in my life and i love this book i hated reading in the past but when i read this book i loved it i just got to win please.

      October 10, 2012 at 3:06 pm | Reply
  30. Vladek

    BLAH!!! This article is simply... pathetic!!! That's it!

    September 30, 2011 at 2:52 am | Reply
  31. DH

    To the genius who wrote this article. You cannot get a 6 foot long jet powered RC plane for under $200. I own a F86 radio control jet,it is made of STYROFOAM and weighs around 36 ounces. You aren't going to get anything on this plane and have it able to fly.What this terrorist bought was way more than the $200 models you supposedly saw and none of them are 6 feet long.Perhaps you should consult the RC world before writing an article blaming modern day terrorism on radio control pilots.

    Yes,there could be a threat from them but you should make yourself informed before writing total BS in this article.

    September 30, 2011 at 2:49 am | Reply
    • Max A

      Exactly, don't forget on top of the fact it takes a lot more (size/power) of a model plane to carry a decent payload and still fly well – the consumer level electronics – the R/C controls and Hobby auto-pilots are wal-mart style toys compared to what our military actually uses. The long rang sophisticated stuff – they don't even let those chips on the market and there is huge regulation on limiting the transmit power. R/C planes are generally just toys, and a hobby.

      September 30, 2011 at 11:02 am | Reply

    If you had chemical or biological weapons you wanted to dump in a public area couldn't you just put it in a backpack or something? Why go through the trouble of a RC plane.

    September 30, 2011 at 12:16 am | Reply
    • mickey1313

      I dont know, I saw this as the plot for a cheesy girls with guns movies, from the 80's, hilarous, but not to realistic

      September 30, 2011 at 12:36 am | Reply
  33. Dan

    Dear CNN
    I've been a long time reader (roughly 8 years), though not an exclusive one (Reuters, Al Jazeera, BBC are typical additions).This is a truly epic fail of an article. This is one of the most ill-conceived, poorly researched, misleading jokes of journalism I've yet encountered. This practically qualifies as Onion material. Honestly, you'd be best off deleting the article and associated commentary, pretending this never happened, and try again. We'd understand. You'd be called on it, but ultimately, we'd understand.
    At the very least apologize.
    Everyone makes mistakes! The key is what you do when you realize you've done so.


    September 29, 2011 at 11:08 pm | Reply
    • Max A

      well said!

      September 30, 2011 at 10:56 am | Reply
  34. Medic

    Hey CNN Could you have a writer do a story on sensationalized journalism and contrived reporting. How much did the FBI pay you to bias this story?

    September 29, 2011 at 10:27 pm | Reply
    • BK

      Why on Earth do you think the FBI would have to pay news outlets to sensationalize their articles? Don't they all do that just to compete with one another?

      September 29, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Reply
  35. forreal89

    This is why we should not let these people in our country

    September 29, 2011 at 10:23 pm | Reply
    • huh?

      who? RC hobbyists?

      September 30, 2011 at 9:04 am | Reply
  36. Ale

    In a month the FAA is going to have regulations on paper airplanes... hey... they could poke someone's eye out... :/

    September 29, 2011 at 9:53 pm | Reply
    • Hoov

      Ya know, they could also use giant slingshots to launch bombs... I think its time we start regulating the giant rubber band industry as well...

      September 29, 2011 at 11:03 pm | Reply
      • huh?

        They could use weather ballons with incendiary bombs and launch them across th Pacific to hit the US!
        Waaaait a minute...thats been done. Damn.

        September 30, 2011 at 9:06 am |
      • huh?

        Look out model rocketeers you're next!

        September 30, 2011 at 9:15 am |
      • WillH021

        By the way, people can throw and kick grenades. Maybe we should outlaw arms and legs. lolz

        October 3, 2011 at 12:02 pm |
  37. serving the servers

    There is NO such Thing as [Coin-]Incidence.

    I wonder if it was Zippies Idea...or perhaps the CI's thought it would be a Viable Idea, of course ....they were just saying.

    Hey Yew, the Farmer is calling.

    September 29, 2011 at 9:52 pm | Reply
  38. God'sman

    affidavit is a filthy jew, this only proves my point that jews did 9/11 and are behind all false flag ops and warmongering. USA can never prosper or have peace as long as these jewish parasites are running the show

    September 29, 2011 at 9:46 pm | Reply
    • mcspore

      God'sman, we are all God's children...don't let your bigotry get in the way of true faith

      September 30, 2011 at 2:43 am | Reply
    • mklsgl

      Next time, let us know how you really feel about Jews.

      September 30, 2011 at 9:06 am | Reply
    • huh?

      Hmmm Trying to figure out why I can read this post still. You know, with the terms of conduct and all.

      September 30, 2011 at 9:08 am | Reply
  39. RC-Ace

    I have been flying RC for over 35 years. The person who did this was clueless to what am amatuer UAV could do. One can shut down the entire Airline industry for a day for under $25. No REAL airplane modeler would ever consider harming anyone with their hobby and I am totally insulted by the FBI to let what happen go as far as it they let it. Mobile companiens and those who want to dominate the air with UAV for their purposes are money grubbing. I woudl voluteer my knowledge to interface our hobby with anyone in the goverment who wants to confuse the populace of the US and the world. You want to curb the UAVs, but you don't outlaw trucks and cars that can deliver as much devastation. Seems those who think they know are clueless.

    September 29, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Reply
    • mcspore

      I was thinking the same thing–a land-based vehicle could carry a much bigger payload, but nothing was mentioned of that threat

      September 30, 2011 at 2:46 am | Reply
  40. TehTroll


    September 29, 2011 at 9:39 pm | Reply
    • NyaaaaanCat

      I totally agree with you. FAKE AND GAAAAAY. Honestly I can't belive that "paper" airplanes are weapons -__-

      September 29, 2011 at 9:58 pm | Reply
  41. Paul

    I just finished reading the FBI affidavit about the case.
    If this is an attempt to get off the market amateurish UAVs so that companies working with the military can make more money, it is well planned and the individual who wrote the affidavit did know what to say to make the point. So, well .. one wonders, .... it really might not be a coincidence and that there is an hidden agenda.
    This said ... a simple technical analysis of the intent of the individual would have quickly shown the flaws and impossibility for him to be successful. In his intent, he planned to use 50 lbs of hand grenades to be detonated simultaneously just before impact, using a servo to pull the safety pin from all the grenades ...
    Are you kidding me? There is no such thing as a rc airplane mode able to carry 50lbs of anything ... moreover, the force required to pull one pin from a hand grenade is immense,, multiply that by 50, and you need 50 servos, assuming you can find one strong enough to pull a pin from a grenade.
    This is ridiculousness ... I wold like CNN to re-write this article with a decent technical analysis. Of course .. if the intent was to put political pressure on legislator .. then we know CNN is part of the hidden agenda.
    This is really disappointing ... professionalism within news agencies is really gone down the toilet

    September 29, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Reply
    • WillH021

      By the way, you couldn't find any rc plane to to fill with 50 grinades, masive servos to set them off, and batteries to power the servos. It just cant happen, thats why the military UAV's are so much larger. thats the ideal size to actually do whatever.

      October 3, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Reply
  42. kren

    the first "attack" on pentagon was by US govtfired cruise missile so they expect us to believe this crap when they lied from beginning?

    September 29, 2011 at 8:59 pm | Reply
    • Aeroman

      You are an idiot. Go crawl back under your rock now...

      September 29, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Reply
    • hehdake

      You must believe anything you read. Too funny...

      September 29, 2011 at 10:56 pm | Reply
    • S1N

      OP – Have you ever heard of Occam's Razor? Probably not. You seem to stupid. Please kill yourself now.

      For those of you with more than one brain cell, it (and I'm simplifying here) states that given two or more possible theories, the simplest one is most likely true barring proof to the contrary.


      How unbelievably stupid can you possibly be?

      September 30, 2011 at 2:20 am | Reply
  43. WOT

    when the advisary is out to get you , there is nothing you can do; when he is already in the HOUSE!

    September 29, 2011 at 8:47 pm | Reply
  44. Paul

    One thing is true ... a lot of RC companies working with the military to provide them with small drones for battle field monitoring (no weapons, they are ineffective and costly) do have an interest in having the market regulated, so they get low cost competition eliminated from the market.
    I start really thinking that the journalist is nothing but a sold marketing guy for these companies who wants regulation because they would have an advantage with working with the military customers.

    I am in the RC filed professionally, I dosing the electronics that goes into these RC airplanes ... nothing fancy, just simple electronics. I can tell you , anyone who knows just a little bit, know the article is very much off , so much it is impossible to be a mistake, this is really manipulation. CNN, you really suck this time.

    September 29, 2011 at 8:46 pm | Reply
    • S1N

      If you ever wonder if CNN has devolved into nothing more than paid commercials for articles, just look at the number of articles that pop up every time an Apple or Amazon employee takes a crap.

      September 30, 2011 at 2:22 am | Reply
  45. RichXX

    Looks like opportunity for more regulation. First terrorist don't care about cost, But for this idiot to give the impression you can fly this plane for $200 cost him his credibility with me. You can't get the engine for this plane for less than several thousand and how about the remote control unit? And how do you fly it out of site under control without a bunch more money and training. Yep, Senator Charles (Mr regulator) Schumer had it right today that these models need more regulation.

    September 29, 2011 at 8:24 pm | Reply
  46. me

    model airplane = weapon of terror
    drone = model airplane
    drone = weapon of terror?

    September 29, 2011 at 8:15 pm | Reply
  47. Mike in NC

    Nothing here that tax cuts for the super-rich can't fix.

    September 29, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Reply
  48. SK

    Remote controlled planes being used as weapons of terror...already done on 9/11.

    September 29, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Reply
    • Henry Santana

      The planes used in 9-11 were not remote controlled.

      September 30, 2011 at 12:04 am | Reply
  49. Paul Airmodeler

    Does anyone else find it coincidental that this "plot" is discovered just before the FAA's new rules for model aircraft is released?

    And as far as this "Analysis: Model planes as weapons of terror" the problem is that the authors, as well as the general public, and the person who came up with the plot, have no idea of the weight limits involved for operating a model aircraft. Simple physics limits the weight of the payload to the point that they are total ineffective as a weapon.

    September 29, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Reply
    • ak

      Reading through all these non-sense here, I totally agree with your point !
      Besides, why bother further regulating RC airplanes that may be able carry a few pounds of payload. Any car or truck can load a thousand pounds of explosive and there are millions of them out there .... go figure.

      September 29, 2011 at 9:07 pm | Reply
  50. common sense

    Step 1: find a young Muslim angry at an unjust world
    Step 2: send military contractors to manipulate with various technologies, drugs, mind control, dream machines
    Step 3: turn into radical and tell FBI
    Step 4: Profit

    How many kids are killed from gang violence? But terrorism is the new Communism. Always have to have a scapegoat.

    September 29, 2011 at 7:11 pm | Reply
  51. Allen

    Danny is dead on- large scale RC aircraft are very expensive, and very sophisticated. Range of control is another serious issue, the equipment used loses contact at around 1/2 mile, max, in good conditions without interference. And attempt of this sort would require thousands of dollars, and weeks of flying practice with an overloaded underpowered model. This article greatly exaggerates the actual threat. Greatest potential for this technology? Dive bombing your neighbor's grill. Oh and he WILL be able to spot you- they're noisy and leave smoke trails ... LOL

    September 29, 2011 at 7:09 pm | Reply
  52. iikka

    This is utterly ridiculous. It's clearly just another plot by big-government Republicans to prevent Americans from having fun.

    September 29, 2011 at 6:48 pm | Reply
    • bob

      Yes because everyone knows Chuck Schumer is such a famous Republican.

      September 29, 2011 at 7:57 pm | Reply
    • Roar

      Yeah, because that's just what everyone wants to do. Create lies to end your fun, that's all anyone thinks about. (If you can't tell, that was sarcasm)

      September 29, 2011 at 8:03 pm | Reply
  53. Danny

    The author of this article ought to do a little more fact checking before writing this trash. Anyone even moderately exposed to RC planes would know that you can't get any kind of airframe over 5ft long for less than several thousand U.S. dollars. And that would certainly NOT include any electronics or motors which would cost more than $200 alone. A decent radio alone costs at a minimum $200. It's clear from reading this quickly pasted together nonsense that the author is clueless about the RC airplane world and sounds like an idiot as a result. I hope your editor give you an earful for some lousy fact checking. People of the world, disregard this nonsense.

    September 29, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Reply
  54. nepawoods

    More and more what was once high technology gets put into the hands of the general public, often as toys. It's only a matter of time before someone with perhaps slightly above average technical ability can put together a swarm of GPS guided autonomous flying drones, either fixed wing or helicopter, that would be virtually unstoppable.

    September 29, 2011 at 6:35 pm | Reply
    • Reality

      Almost as unstoppable as a man/woman/child with a small backpack!

      September 30, 2011 at 8:35 am | Reply
  55. sonic10158

    waterboard the model planes!

    September 29, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Reply
  56. FirstSergeant

    I really shouldn't read these posts. it just scares the hell out of me to read what my fellow Americans are thinking or not thinking.

    September 29, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Reply
  57. Tom

    F14 Phantom? Try F-4...

    September 29, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Reply
    • WillH021

      No big difference, just 14 years and several wars.

      October 3, 2011 at 3:29 pm | Reply
  58. Ian

    Analysis: Journalist bloggers as weapons of terror

    Mission accomplished.

    September 29, 2011 at 6:24 pm | Reply
  59. Paul Airmodeler

    As an aviation enthusiast. and model aircraft builder that used to work in a newsroom I have a few comments to make.
    This is a prime example of copy written to sensationalize a terrorist plot to sell papers, written by someone who is totally clueless. There is no way this type of model aircraft could have carried the payload required to do any real damage.
    As a matter of fact it sounds more like some government plot that was staged so that they can force yet more regulations on us to further erode our rights.
    Still I hope they nail this guy to a wall for his efforts.

    September 29, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Reply
    • Pete

      And you sound so surprised about that fact...

      It's all hype.

      The sensible know that it is not about RC airplanes, Backpacks as one posting interjects or even the personal ownership of firearms... The chief weapon and cause of terrorism is Ideology.

      But to control that you will have to 'profile'.

      September 29, 2011 at 6:20 pm | Reply
  60. Charles

    A backpack is a cheaper deliver system – more reliable to. How about we regulate them, then work our way down the 1000 other ways a terrorist could do harm before we start having to have people line up to register their rc planes?

    September 29, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Reply
  61. someguy100

    model planes could not carry enough explosive payload to do jack squat to nearly anything. this is a thoroughly rediculous piece of journalism. if the supposed perpertrator thought he could use model planes (unless he was using Predator drones) to do any damage, he was deluded. Like the "i think i might want to make a bomb, Moussaoui character", this is just fluff and sensationalism, entrapment and smoke and mirrors.

    September 29, 2011 at 5:33 pm | Reply
  62. Rc Fly Guy

    BTW, this is an average club of gentlemen who fly model airplanes. You can even see in the videos, we do nothing but have some basic fun at our club location which has been there for over 35 years. Its frustrating to have one idiot terrorist mess up this fun hobby for us.

    September 29, 2011 at 4:19 pm | Reply
  63. hax78

    Great here we go with the media whoring up a topic to generate interest, now a hobby I've enjoyed for 16 years now is going to end up with stupid regulations because of uneducated morons. Yes I have planes with GPS enabled autopilots and video cameras, am I a terrorist now? Hell let's ban everything and just sit in a padded room all day so we're "safe". Great job CNN and the media in general, generating stories out of things the writers have no idea about.

    September 29, 2011 at 4:11 pm | Reply
    • Scott

      @hax78, exactly my thoughts. The article does not want to pin this idea on the guy himself, but wants to blame "model airplanes.

      SEN Charles Schumer D-New York said of model planes: "They present a real danger. The difficulty is figuring out how to regulate them." This statement should tell eveyone what an idiot Schumer really is.

      September 29, 2011 at 4:20 pm | Reply
    • tom banning boxcutters on airplanes is a silly idea?

      September 29, 2011 at 4:32 pm | Reply
      • Chuck Miles

        No, we must regulate the purchase of boxcutters and register anyone who buys one no matter what they might (or could) be used for! GET REAL Dude!

        September 29, 2011 at 5:21 pm |
    • that dude

      welcome to my world. you ever try gold dredging in cal. its illegal now. what about off roading, got to get a ton of permits and then sell the rig because it can't be used because of some dango toad that does not live in the woods. try rappelling, nope some one said i could hurt the rocks. after years of flying models now there going to be baned. heck we have farmers when the crops are out they make runways just to watch us fly the planes. a few have graded there access roads so we can fly all summer.

      September 29, 2011 at 8:10 pm | Reply
  64. David

    All of the modelers I know are white or black guys (no Arabs) who just love to get together and have fun talking and flying planes together. We get together at our club Tuesdays and Sundays. Its a very peaceful thing, yet, as with everything good in the world, one person uses it for evil purposes and now the government will try to take away our freedom of flying model planes. The FAA is already trying, now I feel we are doomed.
    Sadly they don't give you the main fact about modelers which is that the average modeler is a 55 year old semi-retired white guy who SUPPORTS the government and LOVES his country.

    September 29, 2011 at 4:09 pm | Reply
    • Phil

      You should have been at Buder Park (St. Louis, Missouri) back in 1995 when a bunch of arabs were trying to fly their AT-6 Texan. It was comical - but they ruined it for themselves because they had no regard for the safety of anyone nor did they bother to join the club or AMA. They just kept abusing privileges since it was a free didn't HAVE to join - but it helped keep up some of the ground maintenance.

      I stopped going, as did many and joined a private field because the risk of being hit by either a heli or anything with else with an engine on it.

      No regard for safety being;

      Taxiing between pilots
      Taking off on taxiway
      Landing anywhere
      Disregard for anyone shouting "dead stick"
      Failure to check frequency board before flying resulting in occasional interference
      Standing on and piloting from the runway

      You name it - they did it.

      September 29, 2011 at 6:03 pm | Reply
      • WillH021

        Spirits of STL Club!!!

        BTW, it has a 630foot runway, so its better, plus its in the middle of rural St. Charles so its hard to hit something or someone.

        October 3, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
    • The Arab

      hey man just wanted to let you know even though ther are no arabs flying with you we are very capable of enjoying this hobby with ought the feeling of wanting to do harm. i don't even want to say sorry on behalf of our people as waste of live people like this guy are not our peaple. on the same hand who else do you blame the news for not checking basic maths regarding power to wight r or the government for allowing this guy to keep going wen he clearly shows an ill mind. i Love this hobby i love FPV i love my planes boats and all the vids i upload on youtube of the fpv plane recording with the gopro over the hills wer i live prove arabs can be safe and enjoy life just like you

      December 7, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Reply
  65. Jeff Stewart

    This guy is supposed to be a United States Citizen, resident of what we know is the best country in the world, and as a citizen should promise loyalty to this country. He should be tried to the fullest extent of the law, wisth presumed innocence, and if found guilty beyong a resonable doubt EXECUTED. He's nothing but a long term sleeper agent. All the years being here and profiting off the educational system here and all he can look to do is terrorize his benefactors. Pure Slim that's not fit to walk this beautiful land... Go the heel back to the desert or my you be put under it!

    September 29, 2011 at 4:01 pm | Reply
    • WillH021

      Doesn't that qualify as treason/espionage?

      October 3, 2011 at 3:39 pm | Reply
  66. RC Guy

    Good thing these guys are on our side...

    September 29, 2011 at 3:57 pm | Reply
  67. jonathan

    Hmmm I could use that p[lane to drop bibles in Muslim Cities... I wonder if the FBI will help me

    help me! help me! help me! roflol 🙂 🙂 🙂

    September 29, 2011 at 3:55 pm | Reply
  68. Let's Ban Everything

    F-14 Phantom? - no such thing. A $200 5'6" RC plane capable of flying that distance and carrying a 4lb payload? - does not exist. This is blatant sensationalism. RC planes that big cost several thousand$$. GPS alone might run over $1k. This guy had a lot more money in this than your average 14yr old flying in the park, and no amount of regulation could stop a terrorist from building their own from scratch. RC planes have been around since long before WWII. The first RC boat was invented by Tesla in 1898. Good luck getting that genie back in the bottle. And why bother? The easiest way to deliver explosives is still with a suicide vest or in the mail or by using a car. So let's ban cars next.

    September 29, 2011 at 3:54 pm | Reply
    • David O.

      He meant to say F-4 "Phantom." I'm somewhat of a military aviation geek so I cringed at that error.

      September 29, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Reply
      • WillH021

        They said F-14 phantom in the report.

        October 3, 2011 at 3:40 pm |
  69. drogo, the stallion that mounted the world

    I suppose the next thing will be federal legislation banning the sales of model airplanes or at a minimum each unit will have to registered with the Department of Homeland Security.

    September 29, 2011 at 3:52 pm | Reply
  70. Racsan

    I believe there was a plot story line on NCIS, possibly 2010.

    September 29, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Reply
  71. knuckle

    typical mooooslim

    September 29, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Reply
  72. Dan Pate

    Great! I guess that means the Feds will now be curtailing access to model airplanes. There is a model airplane field at the park near my home. I will start looking for the scanners and prepare to get felt up by the TSA soon.

    September 29, 2011 at 3:47 pm | Reply
    • Prashant

      Posted on You know, I had a similar prlebom in reverse. I have two boys and the eldest (age 5) is fascinated with cooking, so me and his Mom wanted to get him an Easy Bake Oven for his birthday last February. However, they only came in pink. We knew he wouldn't care and I really didn't think it was a prlebom, but it still gave me pause. We ended up not getting him one for another reason (all of the mixes are made in factories that have peanut exposures and he's allergic), but it still kinda bugged me that cooking was considered a girls-only activity.

      October 10, 2012 at 10:37 am | Reply
  73. David

    Yes, let's ban model airplanes but keep semi-automatic assault rifles perfectly legal. Because Islamic terrorists would never think of shooting a weapon into a crowded group. That seems reserved only for "american" terrorists.

    September 29, 2011 at 3:44 pm | Reply
    • JK

      80,000,000 Americans don't run around and shoot people because they have a semi-automatic rifle. It's in the US Bill of Rights #2, look it up, it's just as important as you being able to speak freely on cnn forums.

      September 29, 2011 at 4:04 pm | Reply
    • Chuck Miles

      Listen Boob: We have Gun Free zones – guess who are the ONLY people paying attention?... The law abiding person not the criminal – so consequently you have the bad guy with a gun in the gun free zone and no one else being able to stop them. Same concept!!! BAD PEOPLE ARE GOING TO DO BAD THINGS EVEN ILLEGAL THINGS!

      September 29, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Reply
  74. tom

    There is no Al Qaeda, only FBI agents pretending to be Al Qaeda to suck in misfit teens who need to rebel against something.... offering them large amounts of money and weapons for their "technical expertise"... what teen wouldn't get excited. The is entrapment fellas but it's the norm now.

    September 29, 2011 at 3:43 pm | Reply
    • Dreamer96

      You are forgetting or did not read, that the kid started this off by offering cell phones that were setup to trigger IED's, and he gave them to what he thought was an Al-Queda rep. He thought they were going to be used to kill Americans...That is all the FBI needed, that was enough right there.

      September 29, 2011 at 3:49 pm | Reply
  75. conoclast

    Maybe hobby shops should start selling model anti-aircraft pieces, hmm? It's a whole new world!!

    September 29, 2011 at 3:38 pm | Reply
  76. Mohammad

    Entrapment. This under cover operation cost at least few million dollars. Give me the same number of resources and dedication and I can create a terrorist for you from any other religion or ethnic group? And yes I will give him the option to back down -and he won't- after he is completely pumped up and ready.

    September 29, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Reply
  77. Mike


    September 29, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Reply
  78. Frank


    September 29, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Reply
  79. Smokey Yunik

    Shumer has a good idea, regulate the use of model airplanes. Just pass a law that says it's illegal to transport explosives on model airplanes. Of course that's about all the legislation that is possible. You couldn't ban radio control technology like this and at the same time promote science and technology inovation. This kind of technology and its availability to the public is valuable to young people and adults, who strive to push the limits of technology for the benefit of everyone.

    September 29, 2011 at 3:22 pm | Reply
  80. 11truth

    This is nothing new. Thats what was used in 2001, the precision needed to hit a skyscraper at that speed is impossible for the majority of pilots, not to mention a terrorist who couldn't fly a small airplane.

    September 29, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Reply
    • Raj Kumar

      Go! Fuc yourself!

      September 29, 2011 at 3:32 pm | Reply
    • dewed

      Whatever, you 9/11 "truther" scum. Get a life and a brain.

      September 29, 2011 at 3:33 pm | Reply
  81. Skipdallas

    Banning model aircraft, (or anything) is useless! These crazies will always find a way to strike at us and our way of life. Crazy does not equal stupid! I can see the progression of this terror war now. Eventually some jihadist will get his hands on a nuke/biological/chemical weapon and use it against us, with a resulting staggering loss of life. We will be able to trace this back to Pakistan and the government thereof. The West will retaliate in force(as we should have done already) And Whoop-de-do we are in a 3hour World War!

    September 29, 2011 at 3:06 pm | Reply
    • LouD

      According to Stanislav Lunev, former GRU intelligence officer, Russia cached small nukes in the US during the cold war. So if one goes off in a city, that will be the likely source.

      September 29, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Reply
  82. Ian

    Irresponsible, ill informed, un-researched, misleading, scare mongering, hack "journalism" like this produces a greater level of "terror" than the real terrorist threat from any R/C aircraft with a few pounds of C4, that at worst would shatter a few windows, and more than likely just cause a loud bang, somewhere well off target. CNN should be ashamed of themselves for promoting this.

    The reality is that thwarting this sort of "terrorism plot" is absolutely ideal from the FBIs perspective. The terrorist is convinced (with healthy encouragement from the FBI) that their idea is viable, but the plan is in fact a total fantasy, posing virtually no realistic threat to any human but himself. For this terrorist's plan to succeed at least a half dozen untested and nearly impossible things would have had to have been executed perfectly, in sequence. If any one of them fails the whole plan falls apart. For the most part this is true of any plan involving R/C aircraft. There is no payload they can carry that can't be more easily and accurately delivered directly in person or using a large ground vehicle. Other than generally playing into human fears that "the sky is falling", R/C aircraft available to the general public pose no significant threat to life or property, and never will.

    September 29, 2011 at 3:02 pm | Reply
    • Saad

      Ian, excellent. Very eloquent and nicely written response.

      September 29, 2011 at 3:26 pm | Reply
    • Jilhearidjaisht

      Ok, I made that name up. But, anywho, I quit reading Ian's reply at the point he claimed a few pounds of C4 would shatter a few windows and just create a loud bang. Huh? A few pounds of C4? WRONG! Around 3 pounds of C4 would demolish an entire truck – not just shatter it's windows... according to:

      September 29, 2011 at 3:51 pm | Reply
      • Ian

        Any high explosion must be contained or backed with something solid to do any significant damage. Put it inside a truck, inside a building, in the ground, or inside just about anything, and it blows it apart. Put it outside with nothing behind it, and it can do very little damage to nearby objects. It might kill people within a couple dozen feet, but not through the Pentagon's reinforced concrete walls. To do anything at all to that wall it would have to, at *minimum*, be in solid contact with it. That means this guy's fantastical plan would require the C4 to detonate at moment of impact (C4 must be ignited, because it does not detonate with a normal shock). A moment too early, it just makes a bit bang. A moment late, and the plane and C4 is simple scattered harmlessly all over the wall. I stand by my assessment. Putting aside the fact that 5lbs of anything extra is a significant payload for any R/C aircraft, 5lbs of C4 carried in an R/C aircraft just does not make a meaningful weapon against his stated targets.

        September 29, 2011 at 6:18 pm |
    • Dan

      Agree 100%. Epic fail on CNN's part.

      September 29, 2011 at 11:00 pm | Reply
  83. Adam

    This is all bull. This is a guy could not hurt a fly. Damn Americans! The plane shown on all news sites, is a military drone and not the small plane that could not lift a fly that can be bought from a hobby store. Plastic Expolosives! Where in the hell do you buy plastic explosives! Shity damn Americans. Just arresting good people.

    September 29, 2011 at 3:01 pm | Reply
    • phearis

      Adam, you're just as misinformed and ignorant as CNN. That's not a "military drone" as you call it, stop being lazy and do a 30 second Google search. It's a 1/6 scale Radio Controlled dual jet turbine powered F-4 Phantom.

      September 29, 2011 at 3:21 pm | Reply
  84. Kurt

    This goes for anyone: If your god wants you to kill, your god is not worth worshiping.

    September 29, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Reply
  85. SocialistZero

    So, to all those saying this is just a way for the Government to sneak away another freedom... That's just stupid, as it implies that for some reason the Government wants to take away our freedom of playing with RC toys. Which to me, doesn't sound like the best way to start oppressing a population.

    September 29, 2011 at 2:53 pm | Reply
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