The four men who live in Newburgh, New York, were identified as James Cromitie, David Williams, Onta Williams and Laguerre Payen.

They were arrested after buying inactive missiles and inert explosives in a sting operation run by the FBI and other agencies, the authorities said.

The defendants are expected to go before a New York federal court on Thursday.

Each man is charged with conspiracy to use weapons of mass destruction within the US, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison, and conspiracy to acquire and use anti-aircraft missiles, which also carries a maximum penalty of life in prison.