For the award of overheated reaction to this week’s delusional fool of the year, the commentary on the announcement of the arrest of a Muslim student intent on destroying the entire Pentagon complex (or maybe the Capitol – reports vary) must take the proverbial digestive.
It seems that this dastardly man was intent to use his nefarious act to further war on America. He was planning on using a model (yes that’s where the toy bit comes in) of a US F4-86 Sabre jet packed to the gunnels with explosive and flown remotely straight into the Pentagon.
The announcement was made by the authorities that they had managed to stymie the plan by judicious use of a “sting” operation so that residents of Washington may sleep easy. A “sting” is another word for entrapment. It seems that this physics student had neither the finance nor the contacts to put his mad dreams into reality and so relied on members of the FBI to supply him with the actual goods.
Much wailing and gnashing of teeth and considerable hatred of all things and people Muslim vented out across the press and blogosphere. But, here on The Oligarch Kings one tries to take a more measured approach. Let’s see if this stuff flies. Literally.
First. Look at the plane. The Reuters picture above shows it is truly a toy. It’s a plastic model powered by batteries that sits happily on a garden table. The point being that it is not large, and by extension probably could not carry much in the way of a payload. No one seems to have addressed the obvious next question that occurs immediately to me. What happens to the airworthiness of this toy once you try to stuff its guts with the said C4 explosive, detonators, timers, mobile phone parts and other gubbins?. Oh and then there is the GPS stuff to target it once it’s out of immediate sight. Yeah a real goer this.
They are not expensive. A quick trawl through the web will find any number of similar models at between $100 for cheap and second hand through $300.00 ish upwards. Pocket money toys all.
But could it fly? The specialist sites are simply furious. diydrones, a website dedicated to the enthusiastic amateur interested in unmanned aerial vehicles, is clearly unhappy. The forum there notes, amongst other things, that he would need a substantial dedicated runway and lots of practice to control these tricky specialist toys. (And remember he has to handle the additional balance changes from all that extra weight too!). A “Darwin Award Nominee” was one of the more printable and kinder comments.
Now yes I know the US has drones that fly in Pakistan and Afghanistan but they are very specialist things needing careful training. They also cost a damn sight more than $130. Rather a different game.
So was this a credible threat as a flying bomb? Probably not.
The phone detonators? Oh yes now those would work. They would make a credible pipe bomb, maybe even a decent car bomb. But “Death from the skies?” Uh no, not really.
Add to this the fact that whilst he could probably get the kit and phones and stuff from a trip down to Toys R Us or Model World and a Walmart, there is the little problem of the C4 plastic explosive. Easy for our deluded young duffus to source? Not a hope. Not unless you have really good connections with some really dark and dangerous people or can answer a lot of questions from responsible suppliers.
Which leads one to the inescapable conclusion that really none of this was at all possible without this sad delusional man’s contacts with the FBI, who are left looking like they manufactured this little scare either to keep the public nice and frightened of terrorism in general, or as a ruse to maintain their overblown budgets.
Don’t expect this dupe to get to trial any time soon.
Copyright David Macadam 2011