Published July 20, 2012
BOSTON – A Muslim-American man from Massachusetts is expected to plead guilty in federal court in Boston in an alleged plot to fly remote-controlled model planes packed with explosives into the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol.
Prosecutors and defense lawyers said in a plea agreement filed last week that Rezwan Ferdaus of Ashland will plead guilty Friday to attempting to provide material support to terrorists and attempting to damage and destroy federal buildings by means of an explosive. Prosecutors have agreed to dismiss four other charges.
The two charges could carry a combined 35 years in prison, but the attorneys have agreed to request a 17-year sentence for the 27-year-old, who has a physics degree from Boston's Northeastern University.
Ferdaus was arrested last year after federal employees posing as al-Qaida members delivered materials he had allegedly requested, including grenades, machine guns and what he believed was 24 pounds of C-4, a plastic explosive.
He was charged with planning to use three remote-controlled airplanes, each packed with five pounds of explosives, to blow up the Pentagon and Capitol.
Authorities have said the explosives were always under the control of federal agents, and the public was never in danger. Counter-terrorism experts and model-aircraft enthusiasts say it would be nearly impossible to inflict large-scale damage using model planes.
Prosecutors say Ferdaus became convinced that America was evil, and contacted a federal informant and later began meeting to discuss the plot with undercover agents.
Ferdaus' lawyers have suggested that the FBI ignored signs of mental illness in Ferdaus.