Man charged with Pentagon attack plot

Updated: 2011-09-29 09:53


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Man charged with Pentagon attack plot
A scale model of a US Navy F-86 Sabre fighter plane is seen in a handout photo released by the US Justice Department after the photo was submitted to US District Court in Massachusetts as part of a criminal complaint and affidavit filed by the Federal Bureau of Investigation in Boston, Sept 28, 2011. The complaint accuses Massachusetts resident Rezwan Ferdaus, 26, a US Citizen, of plotting to attack the US Pentagon and US Capitol by using remote-controlled aircraft filled with plastic explosives. According to the Justice Department the aircraft shown in the photo is not an actual device constructed by the defendant, but is similar to the remote control aircraft he planned to use in attacks on Washington. [Photo/Agencies] 

BOSTON - US authorities on Wednesday arrested and charged a Massachusetts man with plotting to damage or destroy the Pentagon and US Capitol by using remote-controlled aircraft filled with plastic explosives.

Rezwan Ferdaus, 26, a US citizen, was also charged with attempting to provide support and resources to the al Qaeda group in order to carry out attacks on US soldiers stationed overseas, US attorney's office in Boston said.

He was caught in an undercover operation.

"The conduct alleged today shows that Mr. Ferdaus had long planned to commit violent acts against our country," US Attorney Carmen Ortiz said in a statement.

The public was never in danger from the explosive devices, which were controlled by undercover FBI employees, she said.

Authorities allege that Ferdaus, a physics graduate from Northeastern University in Boston, began planning to commit a violent "jihad" against the United States in early 2010.

Ferdaus, of Ashland, Massachusetts, about 25 miles (40 kilometers) west of Boston, is alleged to have modified mobile phones to act as electrical switches for an improvised explosive devices (IEDs).

He supplied the phones to the undercover FBI agents, who he believed were members of, or recruiters for, al Qaeda.

"During a June 2011 meeting, he appeared gratified when told his first phone detonation device had killed three US soldiers and injured four or five others in Iraq.

Ferdaus responded, "That was exactly what I wanted," the federal affidavit said.

Ferdaus told agents he planned to attack the Pentagon using "small drone airplanes" filled with explosives and guided by GPS equipment. He later expanded that plan to include an attack on the US Capitol.

"In May and June 2011, Ferdaus delivered two thumb drives to the UCs (undercover agents), which contained detailed attack plans with step-by-step instructions as to how he planned to attack the Pentagon and Capitol," authorities said.

Ferdaus traveled to Washington to conduct surveillance and take photographs of his target, and identified sites at East Potomac Park, near the Capitol, from which he planned to launch his explosive-filled aircraft.

Ferdaus' arrest came immediately after he took possession of various weaponry from the undercover agents - including explosives, grenades and AK-47 assault rifles - and brought them to and locked them in his storage unit.