BOSTON — A Massachusetts man was arrested Wednesday and accused of plotting an assault on the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol using remote-controlled aircraft armed with explosives — the latest of several terrorism cases to spring from federal sting operations.
Rezwan Ferdaus was arrested in Framingham after undercover federal agents delivered materials he had allegedly requested, including grenades, six machine guns and what he believed was 24 pounds of C-4 explosive. Federal officials said the public was never in danger from the explosives, which it said were always under control and closely monitored.
Wednesday’s arrest was similar to other cases in which reputed would-be terrorists were caught in sting operations that revolved around fictional plots against various targets, such as Dallas skyscapers or a Chicago nightclub. In this case, though, authorities say Ferdaus planned the scheme.
According to a federal affidavit, Ferdaus, 26, of Ashland, became convinced America was evil through jihadi websites and videos, and began planning “jihad” against the U.S. in early 2010. He contacted a federal informant that December and months later, allegedly began meeting to discuss the plot with undercover federal agents he believed were members of al-Qaida.
Ferdaus said he wanted to deal a psychological blow to the “enemies of Allah” by hitting the Pentagon, which he called “head and heart of the snake,” according to the affidavit.
“Allah has given us the privilege,” he allegedly told the informant. “… He punishes them by our hand. We’re the ones.”
Ferdaus, a U.S. citizen who graduated from Northeastern University with a bachelor’s degree in physics, made a brief initial appearance Wednesday in federal court on charges of attempting to destroy federal buildings and providing support to a foreign terrorist organization, in this case al-Qaida. A detention hearing was scheduled for Monday.
111 arrested in New England criminal immigrant sweep, including 2 in Maine
BOSTON — Immigration officials have arrested 111 undocumented immigrants across New England as part of a nationwide sweep of convicted criminals who investigators say were in the country illegally.
Among the 62 arrested in Massachusetts was 60-year-old Euford Brown, a Jamaican who investigators say was living in Boston’s Mattapan neighborhood and was a registered sex offender convicted in a 1986 rape.
Brown was one of 19 arrested in Boston.
Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials said the arrests were part a seven-day national enforcement operation which led to the arrest of more than 2,900 convicted criminal aliens.
Officials said all of those taken into custody had criminal convictions.
The operation netted arrests in every New England state including 23 in Connecticut, 16 in Rhode Island, six in New Hampshire, and two each in Maine and Vermont.
High court requested to review health care law
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration on Wednesday formally asked the Supreme Court to review its controversial health care law, a move that’s likely to set up a blockbuster election-year decision.
On the heels of an appellate court defeat, the Justice Department late Wednesday afternoon filed the 34-page petition urging the court to uphold the law’s ambitious mandates.
The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta last month struck down the so-called individual mandate.
Earlier Wednesday, the National Federation of Independent Business filed a competing petition urging the Supreme Court to take up the case so it could strike down the law. Separately, 26 states filed their own petition Wednesday challenging the law’s constitutionality.
The law was billed as extending health care coverage to an additional 30 million U.S. residents. Passed in 2010 over unanimous Republican opposition, the law has also been a centerpiece of GOP attacks on the Obama presidency.
In its 2-1 ruling issued Aug. 12, the 11th Circuit concluded that the constitutional clause granting Congress authority over interstate commerce did not stretch so far as to include requiring individual insurance coverage.