Federal authorities charged an Ashland man with plotting to damage the Pentagon and US Capitol with a remote-controlled aircraft filled with explosives.
Rezwan Ferdaus, a 26-year-old US citizen, was arrested today. He was also charged with attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization, in this case Al Qaeda, in order to carry out attacks on US soldiers overseas, Boston.com reports.
Prosecutors urged that Ferdaus be detained without bail until his trial at a US District Court in Worcester during a status hearing earlier today. His detention hearing will be held on Monday at 3 p.m.
“The conduct alleged today shows that Mr. Ferdaus had long planned to commit violent acts against our country,” US Attorney Carmen Ortiz said, the Globe reports. “Thanks to the diligence of the FBI and our many other law enforcement partners, that plan was thwarted.”
In a statement from Ortiz, she said that the public was never in danger from the explosives. Ferdaus was closely monitored by the FBI throughout his alleged plot.
“I want the public to understand that Mr. Ferdaus’ conduct, as alleged in the complaint, is not reflective of a particular culture, community or religion,” Ortiz said. “In addition to protecting our citizens from the threats and violence alleged today, we also have an obligation to protect members of every community, race, and religion against violence and other unlawful conduct.”
Federal prosecutors said that Ferdaus graduated from Northeastern University with a physics degree, and began planning to commit “jihad” acts in early 2010.
In his plot against the Pentagon, Ferdaus allegedly got mobile phones and changed them to act as switches for improvised explosive devices, and gave them to FBI undercover agents to use against soldiers overseas.
The FBI recorded phone conversations beginning in January during which Ferdaus allegedly said that he planned to attack the Pentagon using something similar to “small drone airplanes” filled with explosives. He also told an undercover agent that he wanted to put six gunmen with automatic firearms in the Pentagon during the attack.
Prosecutors allege that Ferdaus ordered his supplies between May and September, including a remote-controlled aircraft. He also received today “(what he believed to be) C-4 explosives, six fully-automatic AK-47 assault rifles and grenades,” said prosecutors. He locked the supplies in a storage unit in Framingham and was subsequently arrested by federal agents.
“Although Ferdaus was presented with multiple opportunities to back out of his plan, including being told that his attack would likely kill women and children …. Ferdaus never wavered in his desire to carry out the attacks,” prosecutors said.