Suspect in Model Plane Plot on Pentagon, Capitol a 'Ticking Time Bomb,' Prosecutor Says
WORCESTER, Mass. – A man accused of plotting to fly remote-controlled model planes packed with explosives into the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol is a "ticking time bomb" who is committed to attacking the United States, a prosecutor said Monday while urging a judge to keep him locked up while he awaits trial.
But attorneys for 26-year-old Rezwan Ferdaus argued for his release from jail, saying he is a mentally troubled man who had a "completely unrealistic fantasy" that had no chance of succeeding.
Ferdaus, of Ashland, was arrested in September after undercover FBI employees posing as members of al-Qaida delivered what they say he believed was 25 pounds of C-4 plastic explosives.
Prosecutors say he asked the undercover agents to get him the explosives, AK-47 assault rifles and grenades so he could carry out the attacks. Authorities say he also showed them cellphones he had fashioned into detonators.
Ferdaus, who has a physics degree from Boston's Northeastern University, faces six charges, including attempting to provide material support to terrorists and attempting to damage and destroy national defense premises.
His lawyers are asking that he be released on bail and placed in the custody of his father until trial.
Prosecutors argued during a detention hearing Monday in U.S. District Court that he is dangerous and should remain behind bars. There was no immediate ruling from U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy Hillman.
FBI special agent John Woudenberg acknowledged that the informant, known as Khalil, had been a gang member, had a drug problem and had multiple criminal convictions.
"We were aware that he had issues; he was a difficult to handle informant," he said.
Woudenberg said the FBI decided to use him with Ferdaus because he was knowledgeable about Islam.
Ferdaus' lawyers also questioned whether the plan prosecutors say was concocted by Ferdaus was feasible.
Davis testified earlier this month that FBI bomb technicians analyzed a cellphone Ferdaus had fashioned into a detonator and "came to the conclusion that it could actually be used" to detonate explosives.
Under questioning from defense attorney Catherine Byrne on Monday, Davis said the plan was feasible "with modifications."