A Massachusetts man has been arrested and indicted for planning an attack on the Pentagon and Capitol with explosives-packed model airplanes.
On September 28, 2011, Rezwan Matin Ferdaus, a 26-year-old American citizen from Massachusetts, was arrested near a storage facility in Framingham after taking possession of what he believed were plastic explosives, grenades, and automatic weapons from undercover FBI agents.
He was indicted the next day on six terrorism-related charges, including attempting to damage federal buildings and attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization.
The FBI, which had been investigating Ferdaus since late 2010, learned from confidential sources and undercover agents how he became radicalized by watching online jihadist videos and visiting extremist Web sites. Ferdaus also expressed his desire to travel overseas for training or to Afghanistan to provide technical assistance to the “overseas brothers.”
Court documents indicate that Ferdaus “wanted ‘to go bigger’” than just a simple attack on a military recruiting center utilizing automatic weapons. To do this, he planned to attack the Pentagon and Capitol buildings with GPS-navigated remote-controlled model airplanes and then to attack the people leaving the buildings with automatic weapons and grenades. According to recordings of Feradus, his stated goal of the attack was to “disable their military center,” and that “once we cut off the military, we can take care of the politicians…” He also noted that he considered attacks on subway stations and a separate military base on Colorado.
Ferdaus, who attained a Bachelor’s Degree in Physics from Northeastern University, also provided undercover agents with two thumb drives detailing his plans. The plans included technical specifications of the model airplanes and grenades, surveillance pictures of the targets and launch site, and a financial breakdown of the entire operation. One drive included updated information after Ferdaus traveled to Washington for additional reconnaissance in May 2011.
In multiple recorded conversations Ferdaus expressed his hatred of Americans, saying “all the kafir [infidels] in this land are enemies… they’re all part of it. They have… killed from us, our innocents, our men, women, and children, they are all enemies.” He said that “Allah has given us the privilege… He punishes them by our hand.”
In addition to the model airplane plot, Ferdaus is charged with constructing and delivering to the undercover agents, whom he expressly believed were associated with Al Qaeda, eight modified cell phones to be used as detonators for IEDs. He also produced an instructional video on how to modify cell phones for this purpose. The undercover agents told him that one of his devices killed U.S. military personnel in Iraq and he was recorded as responding “this is exactly what I wanted and I feel so blessed.”
In 2010, Ferdaus was asked to leave a Roxbury area mosque for his apparent extreme views. A mosque leader described him as “very disaffected, very disturbed. Just a bitter, angry guy.”
Ferdaus’ plot is the latest in a series of planned attacks against military personnel in the U.S. in recent years. Others include a planned attack on a Seattle Military Entrance Processing Station, a plot attack on the Fort Dix Army Base in New Jersey, a plot in New York to shoot down military aircraft, the shooting at the Fort Hood army base and a planned attack on the Marine Corps base in Quantico.
Ferdaus pleaded not guilty at an initial hearing on October 3, 2011. He faces up to 100 years in prison if convicted of all charges.