The FBI arrested Rezwan Ferdaus of Ashland, MA on Wednesday, September 28, 2011 and charged the 26-year-old United States citizen who holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physics from Northeastern University with multiple counts of attempting to damage and destroy federal governmental buildings using an explosive, under 18 U.S.C. Section 844 (f)(1), and related terrorism charges, as reported by CNN, MSNBC, KFOX-TV, and other news outlets published on Thursday, September 29, 2011.
In a detailed 42-page affidavit by FBI Special Agent Gary S. Cacace, available online, which served as the basis of probable cause to issue an arrest warrant by U.S. Federal magistrate judge Timothy S. Hillman, Mr. Ferdaus was alleged to have planned an attack on the Pentagon Building and the U.S. Capitol using as many as 3 model planes, pre-programmed using GPS navigation, packed with up to 10 pounds each of C-4 plastic explosives, as shown in the attached slide show and video clip which accompany this report.
The aircraft to be used in these terrorist attacks were McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II and North American F-86 Sabre jet fighter replicas, 1/10 the size of the actual military aircraft, costing about $3,000 each, with wingspans of 44 inches to 63 inches, and fuselages between 60 to 80 inches in length.
The defendant allegedly told the Florida model aircraft suppliers that he was buying them for his son, although the 26-year-old man who resides at 22 Coburn Drive, in Ashland, MA is unmarried, and has no children.
According to the FBI affidavit, the goal of the plot was to “terrorize the U.S., decapitate its military center, and kill as many ‘Kafirs’, or non believers, as possible.”
To achieve those aims, Mr. Ferdaus planned to follow up the aerial assault of aircraft that would be launched from East Potomac Park with a ground attack by supporters wielding 6 fully automatic Kalashnikov AK-47 assault rifles and hurling hand grenades at those fleeing from the bombed buildings.
In the six month FBI sting operation, from March until September 2011, the suspect was said to have met multiple times with cooperating witnesses and undercover agents, who recorded their conversations with the alleged terrorist, which included such incriminating statements by Mr. Ferdaus saying he sought to “severely disrupt the head and heart of the snake” and “gun down politicians” as they ran from the Capitol.
The defendant also claimed that his aim was to “change the world”, and not benefit financially from his actions.
FBI Special Agent Cacace claimed that at no time was the public put in jeopardy, and that the weapons and grenades which undercover agents provided to the would be terrorist were inoperative.
In addition to the building attacks, the physicist has acquired and given FBI undercover agents 7 modified cell phones that he had rigged to serve as electrical switches which could detonate improvised explosive devices (IEDs) to kill American troops serving in Iraq.
Ferdaus was said to have expressed great satisfaction when he was falsely told that his triggering devices had worked flawlessly.
Besides the planned attacks on the homeland, the defendant has also been charged with attempting to provide resources and support to a foreign terrorist organization, Al-Qaeda, under 18 U.S.C. Section 2339B.
To support his plot, Mr. Ferdaus had rented a storage facility in Framingham, MA under a false name, calling himself “Dave Winfield”, and also used that bogus identity to open a PayPal account. He also traveled to Washington, D.C., conducted surveillance, and photographed his targets.
Exactly what radicalized the 26-year-old seems to be based on his belief of being an “Amir” or leader against non believers of Islamic teachings.
According to Special Agent Cacace, Ferdaus’ desire to attack the United States was so strong that he confided to an undercover agent, “I just can’t stop; there is no other choice for me.”
With the TSA tightening airport security, and the use of Federal Air Marshals, pilots who are trained and licensed to carry firearms on the flight deck, and hardened cockpit doors, using model aircraft as detonation delivery systems seems like a plausible work around for potential terrorists who are thinking outside the box.
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