Federal authorities have arrested a 26-year-old man from the upscale suburbs of Boston for plotting to attack the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol with large remote-controlled planes filled with C-4 plastic explosives.
Federal prosecutors say Rezwan Ferdaus, who is being called an electronics genius, wanted to help Al Qaeda kill Americans.
"C-4 is obviously a high explosive," former FBI Special Agent Brad Garrett explained. "It can cause a tremendous amount of damage."
The FBI said it began its investigation last year after Ferdaus told an informant about his desire to wage "jihad" against the U.S.
The FBI then sent undercover agents posing as al Qaeda recruiters to meet the 26-year-old.
Prosecutors say Ferdaus, who has a degree in physics from Northeastern University, was already rigging cell phones into detonators for bombs he thought would be used to kill American military men and women.
Undercover agents told him his bombs had in fact killed U.S. soldiers. They say his response was "That's exactly what I wanted."
"Individuals self-radicalized, they're not really looking to cause big massive casualties like 9/11 because they are trying to inflict fear," Garrett explained.
According to government authorities, Ferdaus conducted surveillance in Washington, D.C.
Some of Ferdaus' former neighbors from Boston were baffled by the news.
"I didn't believe it," Boston resident Gail Cotter said. "You don't think of terrorists being one street over, but - scary."
A man who attended high school with Ferdaus said he's surprised by the charges.
"He comes from a good family," the man said. "His brother is great guy. He seemed like a nice kid. We were friends all through high school."
Agents arrested Ferdaus after they gave him weapons he allegedly requested. Officials say the public was never in danger.