BROCKTON--A 26-year-old Ashland man was arrested and charged this morning in connection with his plot to attack the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol using large remote controlled, model airplanes filled with C-4 plastic explosives.
According to a statement from Boston U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, following a nearly year-long undercover sting operation, Rezwan Ferdaus, 26, a U.S. citizen who holds a bachelor's degree in physics from Northeastern University, was also charged
with attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, specifically to al Qaeda, in order to carry out attacks on U.S. soldiers stationed overseas.
Authorities said the public was never in danger because the people Ferdaus thought were al-Qaeda recruits were actually undercover FBI agents and not actual al-Qaeda operatives.
In the federal complaint against Ferdaus, investigators stated Ferdaus declared a personal "jihad," or war against the U.S. in 2010.
An investigation into Ferdaus' activities began in January, 2011 when a corroborating witness met with Ferdaus to record conversations about Ferdaus' desire to aid in terror operations against the U.S. and "kill the armies" of non-believers.
From March 2011 to September 2011, the affidavit states undercover agents with the FBI pretended to be members of al-Qaeda, a recognized terror organization, who wanted to help Ferdaus with his desire to plot an attack against the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol building.
The criminal complaint against Ferdaus states not only did Ferdaus plan to crash three explosive-laden, remote control airplanes with lengths of 6 to 8 feet and wing spans of 14 feet into the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol, but also wanted to recruit and supply two teams of 6 men with AK-47 machine guns to join him in killing as many "kafirs," or non-believers as they could following the plane attacks.
Prosecutors said Ferdaus was arrested and charged this morning following a meeting with undercover operatives who delivered a fake supply of C-4 plastic explosives, six AK-47 rifles, and grenades.
When Ferdaus took possession of the supplies and locked away the supposed explosives and machine guns at a rented storage facility in Framingham, agents and police moved in and immediately arrested Ferdaus.
During the investigation, agents said they accepted numerous mobile telephones Ferdaus had modified to be used as electronic detonators for improvised explosive devices for al-Qaeda to use against U.S. forces overseas.
Agents also said Ferdaus recorded a video showing how to turn cell phones and mobile devices into electronic bomb detonators.
Undercover operatives falsely told Ferdaus during a meeting June 27, 2011 that his first phone had been used to kill 3 U.S. servicemen and injure four or five others in Iraq.
Ferdaus allegedly responded,"That is exactly what I wanted."
The complaint says Ferdaus used false identities during the plot, including using the name "Dave Winfield" when he opened a Pay-Pal account to buy one of three remote-controlled planes.
Officials said when the Florida distributor asked Ferdaus why he was buying the plane, Ferdaus--unmarried and without children--told the representative it was for his son.
The complaint states during recorded conversations with undercover agents early in the investigation, Ferdaus told agents more than a year before their meeting he realized from viewing jihadi websites and videos "how evil" America is and jihad is the solution. In his own words, agents said, he decided to "terrorize" the U.S. by attacking Washington D.C. and looked forward with excitement to the prospect of shooting down politicians at the Capitol Building.
Ferdaus visited Washington D.C. to locate a launch site and plan the attacks, including taking surveillance photos, and creating a lengthy, step-by-step manual of how the attack and subsequent machine gun raid would take place.
Agents said Ferdaus did not feel any compassion for the killing of women and children, saying they are "enemies of Allah."
Ferdaus was charged with numerous federal crimes and faces up to 20 years in prison for the charge of attempting to destroy national defense premises and up to 20 years for attempting to damage or destroy buildings owned by the U.S. by using an explosive.
He appeared in U.S. District Court in Worcester and is expected to be held without bail until a detention hearing Monday.
(Photo above is of a model plane similar to those Ferdaus bought to attack Washington D.C. Courtesy Boston U.S. Attorney's Office)