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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