A Massachusetts man was ordered held without bail on charges that he plotted to wage holy war by bombing the U.S. Capitol and the Pentagon using remote-controlled aircraft.
Rezwan Ferdaus poses “a danger to the community,” U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Hillman in Worcester, Massachusetts, said today in an order. Ferdaus pleaded not guilty to the charges last month.
Ferdaus is charged with six crimes, including 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. He may be sentenced to life in prison if he’s convicted.
“Given Ferdaus’s views and seeming dedication to his cause, I find there are no conditions or combination of conditions that the court could impose that would assure the safety of the community, if he were released,” Hillman said.
Ferdaus’s attorney, Federal Defender Miriam Conrad, declined to comment on the judge’s order.
“We’re just reviewing it now and considering our options,” she said.
Defense attorneys have said their client suffers from mental illness and that he tried to break off communications with undercover agents posing as al-Qaeda operatives.
Ferdaus, of Ashland, Massachusetts, a graduate of Northeastern University with a bachelor’s degree in physics, designed and built detonation devices for plastic explosives using mobile phones, according to his indictment.
He supplied 12 mobile phones modified to act as switches to undercover Federal Bureau of Investigation agents he thought worked for al-Qaeda, according to the indictment. He allegedly told the agents he planned to fly two scale models of a U.S. fighter plane into the Pentagon and one into the Capitol.
“I want to totally destroy and take out the enemy and kill as many kafir as possible,” Ferdaus told the agents, using the Arabic term for nonbelievers, according to court papers. “Imagine if our brothers could set off 20 phones at a time.”
The plan included a “ground assault” with automatic weapons and grenades on Pentagon employees as they evacuated the struck building, FBI agent Bradley Davis testified at a bail hearing on Nov. 4.
Ferdaus performed surveillance in Washington, ordered remote-controlled aircraft from a Florida distributor and rented a storage unit in Framingham, Massachusetts, prosecutors said in the indictment.
After agents delivered three grenades, six assault rifles and what Ferdaus believed were 25 pounds of plastic explosives, he locked the materials in the storage facility and was arrested, prosecutors said.
The case is U.S. v. Ferdaus, 11-10331, U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts (Worcester).