(Updates with details of alleged plot in sixth paragraph.)
Sept. 29 (Bloomberg) -- A Massachusetts man accused of planning to bomb the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon in a terrorist attack using remote-controlled planes filled with plastic explosives was indicted by a grand jury in Boston.
Rezwan Ferdaus, 26, a Northeastern University graduate with a bachelor’s degree in physics, began in January to design and construct detonation components for the improvised explosive devices using mobile phones, according to an indictment released today by the U.S. Attorney’s office.
The charges include attempting to damage and destroy a federal building and national defense premises, attempting to provide material support to terrorists and a designated foreign terrorist organization and receipt of explosive materials and nonregistered firearms.
“Ferdaus extensively planned and took substantial steps to bomb the United States Pentagon and United States Capitol Building,” according to the indictment.
Catherine Byrne, a lawyer in the Federal Public Defender’s office in Boston who is representing Ferdaus, didn’t return phone messages seeking comment on the indictment.
Ferdaus supplied 12 mobile phones modified to act as switches for the explosives to FBI undercover employees who he thought were working for al-Qaeda, according to the indictment.
The defendant researched remote control aircraft in a New York Internet café, according to the indictment. In April, he told the Federal Bureau of Investigation undercover agents he planned to fly two of the aircraft into the Pentagon and one into the Capitol and asked them for funding.
In May, he traveled to Washington for surveillance and to take photographs of the targets and the proposed launch site, East Potomac Park, prosecutors said in the indictment. In June, he rented a storage facility in Framingham, Massachusetts.
The FBI agents, at a June meeting, told Ferdaus, falsely, that the first detonation devices that he had delivered to them had been used to kill three U.S. soldiers in Iraq, prosecutors said.
“That was exactly what I wanted,” he told the undercover agents, according to the indictment.
Over a period of months, Ferdaus asked the agents to supply him with explosives and automatic weapons, prosecutors said. Using the alias Dave Winfield, he ordered remote control aircraft from a distributor in Florida.
“I want to totally destroy and take out the enemy and kill as many kafir as possible,” Ferdaus allegedly told the undercover agents in August, using the Arabic term for nonbelievers. “Imagine if our brothers could set off 20 phones at a time.”
In September, the FBI agents delivered to Ferdaus what he believed to be the 25 pounds of C-4 plastic explosives he sought, according to the indictment. He also received three grenades and six AK-47 assault rifles. After he locked the weapons in his storage unit, he was arrested yesterday.
The case is U.S. v. Ferdaus, 11-10331, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Boston).
--With assistance from Chris Dolmetsch in New York. Editors: Peter Blumberg, Michael Hytha
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