Rezwan Ferdaus arrested, accused of plotting attack on Pentagon, Capitol using exploding RC planes

Sep 29, 2011 Issues: Domestic Radicalization / Radicalization Hearings, Counterterrorism

New York Daily News -- by Joseph Straw and Bill Hutchinson
 

A Massachusetts man with a degree in physics was busted Wednesday for plotting to blow up the Pentagon and the US Capitol with homemade drones, officials said.

Rezwan Ferdaus, 26, planned to fill two remote-controlled model airplanes with C-4 explosives and hand grenades and direct them into the iconic Washington buildings, said US Attorney Carmen Ortiz.

The feds said he purchased the model airplanes, one a replica of a Navy F-4 Phantom jet with a Playboy logo on its tail, using the name of former Yankee great Dave Winfield.

Ferdaus was arrested Wednesday morning after he obtained 25-pounds of C-4 explosives, three grenades and six automatic AK-47 assault rifles from FBI agents posing as Al Qaeda operatives.

"The conduct alleged today shows that Mr. Ferdaus had long planned to commit violent acts against our country," Ortiz said. "Thanks to the diligence of the FBI and our many other law enforcement partners, that plan was thwarted."

Ferdaus had been under surveillance by the FBI since March.

The Northeastern University physics grad, an American citizen, had vowed to commit violent "jihad" against the United States as far back as early 2010, according to a federal complaint.

In one of several secretly recorded phone conversations, he claimed he targeted the Pentagon and US Capitol because he wanted to "severely disrupt ... the head and heart of the snake," according to the complaint.

Ferdaus of Ashland, Mass, went as far as obtaining cell phones modified to act as bomb detonating devices, the complaint charges. He provided the phones to the undercover FBI agents along with videotaped instructions on how to use them.

When told the phones were used to set off explosives in Iraq that killed three US soldiers and injured up to five others, Ferdaus said, "That was exactly what I wanted," according to the complaint.

"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."

Ortiz said the public was never in danger because Ferdaus was being watched closely.

"Today's arrest was the culmination of an investigation forged through strong relationships among various Massachusetts law enforcement agencies to detect, deter, and prevent terrorism," said Richard DesLauriers, special agent in charge of the FBI's Boston office.

If convicted, Ferdaus faces up to 15 years in prison.

Rep. Peter King (R-L.I.), chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, praised the arrest of Fedaus, saying he had been briefed on the investigation over the last several months.

"The fact that Ferdaus is a very well-educated physicist should serve as a reminder to us that the threat of Islamic terrorism transcends socioeconomics and does not only emanate from the poor and under-privileged," King said. 

"Ferdaus' arrest also underscores the need to continue efforts to combat domestic radicalization and the evolving threat of 'lone wolf' extremists."