US citizen plotted aerial 'drone' strikes on Pentagon and Capitol


Rezwan Ferdau

Rezwan Ferdaus. Photo source: New York Daily News.

Today the FBI arrested Rezwan Ferdaus for a plot involving an attack on the Pentagon and the US Capitol using explosives mounted on remotely piloted model aircraft, bombing bridges in Washington, DC, and killing politicians; and for attempting to kill US soldiers overseas. Ferdaus, a US citizen living in Ashland, Mass., was under the impression that he was working with al Qaeda operatives.

An FBI affidavit outlines the investigation of Ferdaus, which resulted in his arrest on Sept. 28 for several terrorism-related offenses. According to the affidavit provided by Intelwire, Ferdaus is charged with attempting to injure and destroy federal governmental buildings using an explosive; attempting to injure and destroy national defense premises; and attempting to provide material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization.

The court document states that "no later that in or about March 2011 and continuing until in or about September 2011, Ferdaus did maliciously attempt to damage and destroy buildings, to wit, the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol Building." The affidavit continues:

Beginning in or about June 2011 and continuing through or about September 2011, Ferdaus did knowingly and unlawfully attempt to provide material support and resources ... to wit, detonation devices, communications equipment, weapons, training, and expert assistance and advice to a foreign terrorist organization, namely al Qaeda. Ferdaus gave these items to undercover employees of the FBI ("UCE1," "UCE2," and collectively "UCEs"), who he believed were members of al Qaeda, and did so intending that they would use the devices against U.S. service members serving overseas.

Throughout the entire investigation, Ferdaus was under the impression that the FBI undercover employees were members and recruiters for al Qaeda, to the point where the agents explained to Ferdaus that his "boss has just been killed," referring to the death of Osama bin Laden in May. In another conversation, UCE1 asked Ferdaus: "Who do you think me and brother Hussein are?" His response was, "I think you guys are wonderful brothers; and I feel utterly privileged to have met you... men of the past...excellent men of the past. And to be more specific, I think you are al Qaeda."

A 26-year-old graduate from Northeastern University with a degree in physics, Ferdaus described to the undercover employees his path to jihad. Ferdaus explained that around the beginning of 2010, his viewing of jihadist videos and websites had radicalized him and convinced him that America is evil and that jihad is the only solution.

Ferdaus also expressed an interest in traveling to Afghanistan to conduct training in a technical manner to assist "overseas brothers," whether by teaching physics or making something with technology, according to his recorded conversations with FBI informants.

His goal was to attack America's "military center" and kill as many "kafirs" as possible. Using remote-controlled aircraft, Ferdaus planned to attack the Pentagon and US Capitol Building by filling the aircraft with C-4 explosive. The aircraft in question are the model F-4 Phantom and F-86 Sabre. Ranging from about five to seven feet in length, these aircraft are replicas of US military fighter jets; Ferdaus described as being similar to "small drone airplanes" that could be guided by GPS using Google Earth.

"It's a small, drone aircraft that would be programmed at that target and it can just hit that... a model airplane that can carry a good enough payload and it will detonate on impact," he explained.

In May and June 2011, FBI undercover agents obtained two thumb drives given to them by Ferdaus that included detailed instructions on how he planned to attack two of the highest-profile targets in America. The plan included "order of actions" that were divided into 15 separate steps, along with a timeline. He planned to exact a psychological toll on America by killing women and children, whom he described as "enemies of Allah," telling the agents "I just can't stop; there is no other choice for me."

Around the same time, Ferdaus traveled to Washington, DC to conduct surveillance on his targets and possible launch locations for his aircraft. There, FBI agents monitored and photographed Ferdaus staking out and taking photos of his targets and potential launch sites.

Between May and September 2011, with funds provided to him by the FBI, Ferdaus acquired the following: an F-86 Sabre remote-controlled aircraft; 25 pounds of C-4 explosive; six AK-47's; and grenades. In addition, using a number of different aliases, including "Dave Winfield," Ferdaus obtained a false PayPal account, rented a storage facility, and explained his purposes for ordering the aircraft for his nonexistent son. The AK-47's would be used to "carry out the rest" of the plan to "take care of the politicians." His plan was to assemble six people in two teams to "open up on them" and take out everyone. Ferdaus also planned to set aside nine pounds of C-4 to blow up bridges surrounding the Pentagon, presumably to hinder the efforts of first responders.

Ferdaus is also alleged to have designed and supplied more than seven modified mobile phones to the undercover agents for use in detonating homemade bombs. The undercover agents revealed that Ferdaus had explained his method of removing the backs of the phones and soldering wires, making the phones capable of sending electrical currents which detonate the explosive devices. A training video was filmed by the agents showing Ferdaus giving detailed instructions on how to manufacture the phone detonators to assist "brothers overseas."

On June 27, 2011, FBI agents furthered their case against Ferdaus by falsely claiming that the detonator he provided "had succeeded in killing three U.S. soldiers and injuring four or five others in Iraq." Ferdaus quickly responded, "That was exactly what I wanted and I feel so blessed." The undercover agents went on to describe Ferdaus' excitement and anxious demeanor to hear if any of his other explosive detonators had led to the deaths of any more American soldiers.



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READER COMMENTS: "US citizen plotted aerial 'drone' strikes on Pentagon and Capitol "

Posted by Graham at September 29, 2011 1:27 AM ET:

They can't even afford full-size planes now.

Posted by Zeissa at September 29, 2011 3:58 AM ET:

Funny article. : )

Posted by steven at September 29, 2011 7:22 AM ET:

and this technology will be coming soon.......stakes are raised

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2011/09/iphone-drone-app-war.html

Posted by BEEPBEEPIMAJEEP at September 29, 2011 12:39 PM ET:

The FBI is hiring these stooges, giving them the weapons then arresting them to have legislation passed to remove more of your rights and civil liberties here at home.

All part of the plan.

Martial law incoming.

Posted by Subhasis Paul at September 29, 2011 1:34 PM ET:

Great job from FBI. Actually, these days i have stopped reading fiction and look forward for such real life actions. Islamic fundamentalism should be confronted from all angles and sovereign States should keep all options open including kinetics to protect their citizen and force. Any State refusing to apply kinetics to confront terrorists should be designated as a state sponsoring terrorism - like Pakistan.

Posted by blert at September 29, 2011 2:29 PM ET:

This fellow is but one more example of why it is just too dangerous for the West to educate muslims in our colleges.

College educated males are THE profile for AQ recruitment.

All of the 9-11 jihadis were college educated -- in the West.

One reason for the constant radicallization is the complete impossibility of proper employment in their native lands.

That's what did in Atta.

Not withstanding Arab politics -- the blame is ALWAYS placed upon the West for what their own governments are doing/ not doing.

You just can't win.

Posted by destab at September 29, 2011 3:20 PM ET:

Not a lot of streetwise brains required to get a degree in physics it seems. What a complete tool!
If marital law enables people like these to just disappear it's a good thing. There are hard working people who deserve the funds wasted on tracking and ensnaring and imprisoning valueless scum.
Strip his families citizenship and relocate them. They must be aware that this idiot was flipping out and should of reported it.

Posted by Reading at September 29, 2011 5:27 PM ET:

Will Model Airplanes [fall under] C3 FORM 4 - Stamps Now?

If I build one, will that be on a FORM 1.

$200 Tranfer Fee[Tax], Finger Prints, 2 Pix, pre 2012 only. Duplicate of Course, and DON't [seperate] the Forms.

No New [POST 2012] Manufactured Model Airplanes to Civi's.

LEO/MIL/ Govt Agency only or Clas 3 License w/LEO Demo Letter Paperwork.

Oh, let's not forget a FCC License and PaPerWeRk, there are Radio FRQ's.
And of course a Transfer Fee/TAX.

Which Polly will Sqawk first....Takings Bets.

Posted by Kulamarva Balakrishna at September 29, 2011 11:54 PM ET:

Vienna,30-09-2011
I am surprised at the description of the man as of
"South Asian" origin. In other words suspicion goes
beyond the epicenter of terror as far as the FBI is
concerned. For the non Pakistani origin Muslims it
should come as a warning. Their integrity is also
subject to validation. All citizens of foreign origin
are suspect when the guns are for sale openly.
Mercenary business of running schools of Soldiers
of Fortune continues.Home land security appears
to be valid only for a single home land U.S.A.
How sad.
Taravadu Taranga Trust for Media Monitoring TTTMM
India---Kulamarva Balakrishna

Posted by Neo at September 30, 2011 1:11 PM ET:

Hard to know how serious this guy is, without details. There are companies that sell GPS control systems for model aircraft, but I would be much more concerned about programmable control systems for small commercial aircraft. The type of aircraft he is suggesting seems like a particularly poor choice for a number of reasons. Youd want something slow and stable, with plenty of payload space. At first glance this guy sounds like more of a nut than anything. No Im not a model aircraft guy, but my first impression is Youre doing it all wrong! The problem with this sort of thing is, as long as off the shelf technology is available, someone will eventually figure out how to do it. If there was one place regulatory restrictions might be needed, it would be for programmable interface boards for hooking GPS into existing aircraft flight control systems. Im not sure you want any old hobbyists tooling around in that area.

Posted by Nick Hentoff at October 11, 2011 2:59 AM ET:

What happened to the presumption of innocence? An FBI agent submits a hearsay affidavit relying on paid informants and the media and blogs report the allegations as fact. At least use the word "allegedly" before "plotted" until the defendant is convicted.