Mr Ferdaus, who appeared in court in Massachusetts yesterday, allegedly planned coordinated attacks on government buildings using remote-controlled replicas of US fighter jets, packed with 24 pounds of C-4 plastic explosives.
As well as his alleged plans to attack Washington, federal officials said Mr Ferdaus, a physics graduate from Northeastern University in Boston, modified mobile phones to act as electrical switches for improvised explosive devices (IEDs), intended to kill US soldiers in Iraq.
The arrest is the latest sting operation in which would-be terrorists have been caught in fictional plots against targets including skyscrapers in Dallas and a nightclub in Chicago. In this case, prosecutors claim Mr Ferdaus had planned the scheme himself.
Officials said he repeatedly told the undercover agents he was driven to kill Americans as “enemies of Allah”. “I just can’t stop,” he said, according to recorded conversations. “There is no other choice for me.”
According to a federal affidavit, Ferdaus said he wanted to deal a psychological blow to Americans, the ‘enemies of Allah,’ by hitting the Pentagon, which he called ‘head and heart of the snake.’
“The conduct alleged today shows that Mr. Ferdaus had long-planned to commit violent acts against our country, including attacks on the Pentagon and our nation’s Capitol. Thanks to the diligence of the FBI and our many other law enforcement partners, that plan was thwarted,” U.S. Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz said in a press release.
If convicted he faces up to 15 years in prison on the material support and resources to a foreign terrorist organization charge; up to 20 years in prison on the charge of attempting to destroy national defense premises; and a five-year minimum mandatory in prison and up to 20 years on the charge of attempting to damage and destroy buildings that are owned by the United States, by using an explosive. On each charge Ferdaus also faces up to three years of supervised release and a $250,000 fine.