Remote planes bid to bomb Pentagon
A man has been arrested, accused of plotting an attack on the Pentagon and US Capitol using remote-controlled aircraft armed with explosives.
In the latest of several terrorism cases to spring from US government sting operations, Rezwan Ferdaus was arrested in Framingham, Massachusetts, after undercover agents delivered materials he had allegedly requested, including grenades, six machine guns and what he believed was 24lbs of C-4 explosive.
Wednesday's arrest was similar to other cases in which reputed would-be terrorists were caught in sting operations that revolved around fictional plots against various targets, such as Dallas skyscrapers or a Chicago nightclub. In this case, though, authorities say Ferdaus planned the scheme.
According to a federal affidavit, Ferdaus, 26, of Ashland, became convinced America was evil through jihadi websites and videos and began planning "jihad" against the US in early 2010. He contacted a federal informant that December and months later, allegedly began meeting to discuss the plot with undercover agents he believed were members of al Qaida.
Ferdaus said he wanted to deal a psychological blow to the "enemies of Allah" by hitting the Pentagon, which he called "head and heart of the snake", according to the affidavit. "Allah has given us the privilege," he allegedly told the informant. "... He punishes them by our hand. We're the ones."
Ferdaus, a US citizen who graduated from Northeastern University with a bachelor's degree in physics, made a brief initial appearance in court on charges of attempting to destroy federal buildings and providing support to a foreign terrorist organisation, in this case al Qaida. A detention hearing will be held on Monday.
Ferdaus is accused of planning to use three remote control planes measuring up to 80ins in length. He allegedly planned to pack 5lbs of explosives in each plane, while saving some of it to blow up bridges near the Pentagon. The planes, guided by GPS and capable of speeds greater than 100mph, would hit the Pentagon and blow the Capitol dome to "smithereens", according to Ferdaus' plan, detailed in the affidavit.
Ferdaus then planned a follow-up automatic weapons attack with six people divided into two teams, according to the affidavit. At one point, according to recorded conversation detailed in the affidavit, Ferdaus told undercover agents that his desire to attack the United States was so strong, "I just can't stop. There is no other choice for me".
Asked at one point about possibly killing women and children, Ferdaus allegedly said all unbelievers of Islam were his enemies.
He said al Qaida was casting a wide net to radicalise individuals or small groups already in the country because of the significant advantages. "They're already here, so they don't have the hurdles of getting into the country, they know the country better. ... They know how to move around," Mr Keating said. "The testimony we heard, things like this (the Ferdaus arrest) were inevitable."