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Plot to bomb Capitol with explosive-laden model planes foiled, FBI says

Rezwan Ferdaus was arrested in Massachusetts Wednesday, charged with plotting to kill US soldiers overseas as well as to attack the Pentagon and the US Capitol with explosives carried by remote control aircraft.

By Staff writer / September 28, 2011

This photo released by the US Attorney's Office shows a remote controlled model of the Navy's 1950s Sabre jet fighter that allegedly belonged to Rezwan Ferdaus, who was arrested Wednesday on charges of planning to fly explosive-packed, remote controlled airplanes into the Pentagon and the Capitol. Ferdaus also was charged with plotting to kill US soldiers overseas.

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An American Muslim acting as a lone-wolf jihadi, who thought he was working with Al Qaeda operatives, was arrested in Massachusetts Wednesday for plotting to kill US soldiers overseas as well as planning to attack the Pentagon and the US Capitol with explosives carried by remote control aircraft, according to federal officials.

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Rezwan Ferdaus is a 26 year-old US citizen and a graduate of Northeastern University in Boston with a degree in physics. According to the criminal complaint filed against him, he is charged with “attempting to destroy federal governmental buildings using an explosive, attempting to destroy national defense premises, and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.”

According to the FBI affidavit in the case, Mr. Ferdaus modified cell phones to be used as devices to trigger roadside bombs in Afghanistan meant to kill US soldiers. He gave these to FBI undercover agents and was pleased when told that they had worked successfully.

Ferdaus also is alleged to have obtained and outfitted small remote-control aircraft he meant to carry C-4 explosives in attacks against the Pentagon and the Capitol, which he had taken surveillance photos of. On the morning of his arrest in Ashland, Mass., about 20 miles from Boston, Ferdaus received C-4 explosives, six fully-automatic AK-47 assault rifles, and grenades from undercover FBI agents. His intention was to have six Al Qaeda operatives join him in the attack.

Like other recent cases involving alleged terror plots against US targets, this one was thwarted through the use of undercover FBI agents and cooperating witnesses. And as with other such cases, it was the suspect’s own words that gave law enforcement officials what they believe to be an easy case to prosecute.

"During a June 2011 meeting, he appeared gratified when he was told that his first phone detonation device had killed three U.S. soldiers and injured four or five others in Iraq. Ferdaus responded, 'That was exactly what I wanted,' " according to a US Department of Justice statement. In fact, the cell phones he had modified never left the United States.

"Ferdaus envisioned causing a large 'psychological' impact by killing Americans, including women and children, who he referred to as 'enemies of Allah,' " the Justice Department statement said. "According to the affidavit, Ferdaus's desire to attack the United States is so strong that he confided, 'I just can't stop; there is no other choice for me.' "

"Although Ferdaus was presented with multiple opportunities to back out of his plan, including being told that his attack would likely kill women and children, the affidavit alleges that Ferdaus never wavered in his desire to carry out the attacks," the Justice Department said.

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