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Federal prosecutors have charged Rezwan Ferdaus with attempting to use a model airplane to bomb the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol.
Federal agents had been in contact with the 26-year-old U.S. citizen since early last year. Posing as al Qaeda recruiters, they supplied him with fake C-4 explosives, assault rifles and grenades.
Ferdaus then supplied undercover agents with remote bomb detonators to be used abroad.
Rezwan Ferdaus became militarized after viewing jihadist videos online, according to the indictment. He wished to destroy the country's military and political centers.
He planned to accomplish these goals with a model airplane bomb and modified cell phones. The phones act as electrical switches for explosive devices used abroad.
He gave seven of them to federal agents.
The modified cell phones form the basis of another charge: attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.
In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Congress strengthened the country's existing terrorism statute, found at 18 U.S.C. § 2339B. The statute makes it illegal to knowingly attempt to provide material support or resources to a foreign terrorist organization.
To be found guilty of attempt, a defendant must intend to commit the underlying crime, and take some action towards its completion. Though Ferdaus handed the modified phones to federal agents, he believed them to be al Qaeda operatives.
This is both proof that he intended to provide illegal support, and that he tried to do so. The creation of the phones would also satisfy the "action" component of the crime.
For attempting to provide material support to al Qaeda, Rezwan Ferdaus faces up to 15 years in prison. For planning to use a model airplane bomb against the Pentagon, he could face several more.