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Bail denied for man accused of plotting attack on Pentagon

BOSTON (Reuters) - A Massachusetts man accused of plotting to attack U.S. targets using model aircraft was ordered held without bail on Monday by a federal judge who ruled he was a danger to the community.

Rezwan Ferdaus, a 26-year-old U.S. citizen, has pleaded not guilty to charges he plotted to fly remote-control, explosives-laden aircraft into the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol and to follow up with a ground assault.

Ferdaus, whose case has renewed concerns about the risk of home-grown militant attacks, also was accused of attempting to provide material support and resources to militant group al Qaeda. He was arrested after an undercover operation.

Defense attorneys had suggested that Ferdaus has mental health issues and they have called the attack plan "fantasy."

They said Ferdaus did not know how to obtain explosives or assault weapons and would not have been able to do anything without the help of undercover FBI employees.

Magistrate Judge Timothy Hillman said in his ruling that evidence showed Ferdaus to be an "intelligent and troubled young man" who was committed to his cause.

"Simply put, what makes Ferdaus a significant danger to the community is not whether his plan would have worked or whether he had the means to implement it, but that it was his strong desire to see his plan carried out," Hillman wrote in his ruling.

Ferdaus, a physics graduate from Northeastern University in Boston, was arrested and charged in September.

He has lived his entire life in Ashland, Massachusetts, about 25 miles west of Boston, with his parents.

Authorities said in an affidavit that he began planning to commit a violent "jihad" against the United States in early 2010.

He allegedly modified mobile phones to act as electrical switches for improvised explosive devices, authorities said, and is accused of supplying the phones to undercover FBI employees he believed were al Qaeda members or recruiters.

If convicted, Ferdaus faces up to 15 years in jail for providing support to foreign terrorists, up to 20 years for attempting to destroy national defense premises, and up to 20 years for attempting to damage and destroy buildings owned by the United States.

(Reporting by Lauren Keiper; Editing by Greg McCune)