BOSTON (AP) — A Massachusetts man was sentenced Thursday to 17 years in prison in a plot to fly remote-controlled model planes packed with explosives into the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol.
Rezwan Ferdaus, 27, of Ashland, pleaded guilty in July to attempting to provide material support to terrorists and attempting to damage and destroy federal buildings with an explosive. As part of a plea agreement between prosecutors and Ferdaus’ attorney, both sides agreed to recommend the 17-year sentence.
Ferdaus, a Muslim-American who grew up in Massachusetts and has a physics degree from Northeastern University, delivered a long, soft-spoken statement in which he offered no apology for his actions but thanked his family and friends for supporting him. He said he has accepted his fate and “can dream of a brighter future.”
Ferdaus did not make any direct anti-American statements, but he did refer to “a world filled with injustices.”
“Who other than God knows best what it takes to make a good human being,” he said.
Ferdaus was arrested last year after federal employees posing as members of al-Qaida delivered materials he requested, including grenades, machine guns and plastic explosives. Authorities have said the public was never in danger because the explosives were always under the control of federal agents.
Prosecutors have said Ferdaus began planning a holy war against the United States in 2010 after becoming convinced by seeing jihadi websites and videos that said America is evil.
Prosecutors say he approached a government informant at a mosque in December 2010 and later met with undercover agents to discuss a plot. Prosecutors said Ferdaus also wanted to kill U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan using improvised explosive devices detonated by modified cellphones.
This pious Muslim planned to shoot individuals as they fled bombed DC buildings.
Ferdaus indicated that his ground assault plan would involve the use of six people, armed with automatic firearms and divided into two teams. Ferdaus described his expanded attack as follows:
…with this aerial assault, we can effectively eliminate key locations of the P-building then we can add to it in order to take out everything else and leave one area only as a squeeze where the individuals will be isolated, they’ll be vulnerable and we can dominate.
Once isolated, Ferdaus planned to “open up on them” and “keep firing” to create “chaos” and “take out” everyone. He also provided the expanded plan to the UC on a thumb drive.