Man admits model-plane plot
A Muslim-American man pleaded guilty yesterday to his role in a plot to use remote-controlled model planes packed with explosives to blow up the Pentagon and US Capitol.
Rezwan Ferdaus pleaded guilty to attempting to provide material support to terrorists and attempting to damage and destroy federal buildings by means of an explosive.
The 26-year-old was arrested last year after federal employees posing as al-Qa'ida members delivered materials he requested, including grenades, machine guns and plastic explosives.
Under a plea agreement, federal prosecutors agreed to drop four other charges. Prosecutors and Ferdaus' lawyers also agreed to request a 17-year sentence on charges that carry a combined maximum of 35 years in prison.
Ferdaus grew up in Massachusetts and has a physics degree from Boston's Northeastern University.
His mother sobbed uncontrollably after he was led away.
Authorities said the explosives were always under the control of federal agents, and the public was never in danger.
Counterterrorism experts and model-aircraft enthusiasts say it would be nearly impossible to inflict large-scale damage using model planes.
Prosecutors have said Ferdaus began planning jihad, or holy war, against the US in early 2010 after becoming convinced through jihadi websites and videos that America was evil. He later contacted a federal informant and began meeting to discuss the plot with undercover agents he believed were members of al-Qa'ida.
Ferdaus told undercover agents that he felt compelled to attack the US, authorities said. "I just can't stop," he said. "There is no other choice for me," he added, according to a recorded conversation.
Sentencing is set for November 1.