Here's the dailykos essay that gives the background to the email questionnaire I sent. This has resulted in two corrections, including the most misleading, the caption to the photo of the model, saying a "real one" was given to the suspect" I'm told by the reporter that this correction is being made, although it has been done so as of Friday.
Man Is Held in a Plan to Bomb Washington
By ABBY GOODNOUGH
Published: September 28, 2011
BOSTON — A 26-year-old man from a town west of Boston was charged Wednesday with plotting to blow up the Pentagon and the United States Capitol using remote-controlled aircraft filled with plastic explosives.
Photo of model airplane with this caption on side of article
U.S. Department of Justice, via Reuters
A model of an F-86 drone, a real version of which was reportedly given to the suspect.
The suspect, Rezwan Ferdaus of Ashland, is an American citizen and has a physics degree from Northeastern University in Boston, according to an F.B.I. affidavit. Mr. Ferdaus also tried to provide detonation devices, weapons and other resources to Al Qaeda to carry out attacks on American soldiers stationed overseas, law enforcement officials said.
The arrest was the result of an undercover F.B.I. operation that included a cooperating witness with a criminal record, according to Richard DesLauriers, the special agent in charge of the F.B.I. office in Boston. According to the affidavit, Mr. Ferdaus began planning to commit “violent jihad” against the United States in 2010, modifying cellphones to act as detonators and supplying them to undercover agents who he thought were affiliated with Al Qaeda.
His alleged plan to attack the Pentagon — detailed on two thumb drives that he delivered to the undercover agents, the affidavit said — involved using three remote-controlled planes, similar to military drones, guided by GPS equipment.
Mr. Ferdaus went to Washington in May to take photographs of the Pentagon, the Capitol and places in Potomac Park from where he planned to launch the explosives-filled aircraft. According to the affidavit, he described Americans as “enemies of Allah” and told undercover agents that his desire to attack the United States was so strong that “I just can’t stop; there is no other choice for me.”
In what seems an elaborate operation, undercover F.B.I. agents who had been talking to Mr. Ferdaus for months provided him with some of the necessary components for his planned attack, including six assault rifles, three grenades, 25 pounds of C-4 plastic explosives and even an F-86 remote-controlled aircraft. The explosives and guns were provided on Wednesday just before his arrest, law enforcement officials said.
“The public was never in danger from the explosive devices,” Carmen M. Ortiz, the United States attorney in Boston, said in a statement.
Catherine Byrne, a lawyer for Mr. Ferdaus, did not return a call seeking comment. Mr. Ferdaus is charged with attempting to destroy federal government buildings using an explosive, attempting to destroy national defense premises and attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization.