A US citizen has been charged with planning to fly explosive-packed, remote controlled airplanes into the Pentagon and the Capitol in Washington.
Rezwan Ferdaus, 26, was arrested and charged with the aerial bombing plot and attempts to deliver bomb-making materials for use against US troops in Iraq, US Attorney Carmen Ortiz said in Boston.
”The conduct alleged today shows that Mr Ferdaus had long planned to commit violent acts against our country, including attacks on the Pentagon and our nation’s Capitol,” Mr Ortiz said.
During the alleged plot, undercover FBI agents posed as accomplices who supplied Ferdaus with one remote-controlled plane, C4 explosives, and small arms that he allegedly envisioned using in a simultaneous ground assault in Washington.
However, ”the public was never in danger from the explosive devices, which were controlled by undercover FBI employees,” the FBI said.
Authorities described Ferdaus as a physics graduate from Northeastern University who followed al-Qaeda and was committed to ”violent jihad” since early last year.
He also apparently possessed a knack for technical work.
Ferdaus is accused of modifying mobile phones for use as electrical switches in bombs to be used against US troops in Iraq.
”That was exactly what I wanted,” he is alleged to have said when told – falsely – that one of his phones had been part of a bomb that killed three soldiers.
Aided by the FBI undercover team, Ferdaus was also developing far more grandiose plans, according to the authorities.
”Ferdaus stated that he planned to attack the Pentagon using aircraft similar to ‘small drone aeroplanes’ filled with explosives and guided by GPS equipment. According to the affidavit, in April 2011, Ferdaus expanded his plan to include an attack on the US Capitol,” the FBI said.
In May and June 2011 Ferdaus delivered thumb drives to the undercover team with step-by-step plans for his alleged plot.
This included using three remote-controlled planes and six people who would be armed with Kalashnikovs and grenades.
The plan, according to the FBI, was to use the ”aerial assault” to ”eliminate key locations.” At that point the attackers would herd survivors into a tight corner and ”open up on them” and “keep firing.”
Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the FBI in Boston, said the arrest showed that ”a committed individual, even one with no direct connections to, or formal training from, an international terrorist organisation, can pose a serious danger to the community.”
If convicted, Ferdaus faces up to 15 years in prison for supporting a foreign terrorist organisation, up to 20 years for attempting to destroy national defence sites, and the same again for attempting to use explosives against buildings owned by the United States.