ASHLAND — The Ashland man who was arrested Wednesday in a terrorism investigation was indicted today on charges of supporting terrorists and planning to bomb federal buildings in Washington, D.C.
Rezwan Ferdaus, 26, was indicted on charges of attempting to damage and destroy a federal building by means of an explosive, attempting to damage and destroy national defense premises, receiving firearms and explosive materials, and attempting to provide material support to terrorists and a terrorist organization.
“With the goal of terrorizing the United States, decapitating its ‘military center,’ and killing as many ‘kafirs’ (an Arabic term meaning non-believers) as possible, Ferdaus extensively planned and took substantial steps to bomb the United States Pentagon and United State Capitol Building using remote controlled aircraft filled with explosives,” the indictment said.
He is slated to appear in US District Court in Worcester on Monday for a detention hearing.
Ferdaus is a US citizen and a Northeastern University graduate whose only known previous crime was vandalism,.
Prosecutors said that, inspired by Al Qaeda, Ferdaus plotted to send a remote-controlled aircraft carrying explosives into the Pentagon and the US Capital “to kill as many people as possible.” He also allegedly planned to wage a ground assault.
Ferdaus allegedly told undercover FBI operatives his plan had to be expanded to include the ground assault in order to “totally ... cut out ... everything of the snake.”
Federal officials said that at no point did Ferdaus have sole control of explosive materials, such as C-4, or guns and that he was closely monitored by the FBI during his alleged plotting in the past year.
Prosecutors said Ferdaus modified mobile phones to act as electrical switches for improvised explosive devices and that he gave eight of them to FBI undercover agents, who he thought were Al Qaeda recruiters. According to an affidavit filed Wednesday by an FBI agent in the case, when told that one of the devices had killed three US soldiers and injured at least four others in Iraq, he exclaimed, “That was exactly what I wanted.’’
Prosecutors said that Ferdaus had already hatched a plan to attack federal buildings before he met the undercover agents in March 2011. He later traveled to Washington, D.C., and took pictures of the Pentagon and the Capitol. He subsequently received at least $7,000 from the agents to purchase a remote-controlled plane about the size of a human body. The agents also delivered 25 pounds of C-4 explosives, three grenades, and six AK-47 assault rifles to Ferdaus.
He planned to recruit other men to shoot at people fleeing the Pentagon, prosecutors said. Ferdaus obtained the plane in August. He then had the undercover agents deliver the explosive materials and guns Wednesday to a storage facility in Framingham that he had rented to plan his attacks. Once he took possession of the materials, he was arrested.
Meanwhile, people interviewed in Ashland said today they were surprised to hear about Ferdaus’s arrest.
“I think I was just as surprised as everybody else,’’ said Ashland Selectman Jon Fetherston, who lives in the suspect’s neighborhood.
“This is the sleepy little town of Ashland and you don’t know that this type of thing is going on,’’ Fetherston added. “So you know everybody is a little concerned about it.’’