OFFICIALS from the U.S. Department of Justice are urging Americans to remain watchful for suspicious activities that could signal a terrorist attack.
Their comments came after the arrest of Rezwan Ferdaus, who is charged with attempting to launch remote control airplanes laden with explosives against the U.S. Capitol and Pentagon in support of a foreign terrorist organization.
According to an FBI affidavit, Ferdaus, 26, is a U.S. citizen who earned a degree in physics from Northeastern University in Boston. He received C-4 explosives, fully-automatic rifles and grenades from undercover agents on Wednesday and was arrested.
Ferdaus had allegedly plotted with what he thought were al-Qaeda members to carry out attacks in the nation's capital.
The affidavit also said Ferdaus modified cell phones so they could be used to detonate bombs in Afghanistan and was pleased when told one such device was used to kill U.S. soldiers.
The Ferdaus case is not an isolated incident.
Last December Mohamed Osman Mohamud was arrested for his part in an alleged plot to kill people attending a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Ore.
In June, Abu Khalid Abdul-Latif and Walli Mujahidh were arrested at a warehouse where prosecutors say they intended to receive machine guns for use in a terror attack.
Farooque Ahmed was charged last year in connection with a plot to bomb Metrorail stations near Washington D.C.
In each case the suspects were not thought to have formal ties to overseas terrorist groups, but were seeking validation of themselves as warriors against the United States. A U.S. security report indicates that domestic terrorism is a bigger threat than attacks originating elsewhere.
Justice Department calls for vigilance are an indication that Americans' eyes and ears can be a powerful law enforcement tool. A national Neighborhood Watch may not be practical, but public engagement and awareness could be the next best thing.