Al Qaeda supporter pleads guilty to model plane plot
BOSTON: An American al Qaeda supporter plotting to bomb the Pentagon and Capitol using explosives-laden model planes faces 17 years in prison, a federal prosecutor said at the trial Tuesday.
Rezwan Ferdaus, 26, will be sentenced on July 20, after pleading guilty to attempting to destroy the Washington landmarks and seeking to provide material support to terrorists, according to federal prosecutor Carmen Ortiz.
Although he awaits sentencing later this month, Ferdaus has already “agreed to a joint sentencing recommendation of 17 years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release,” a statement from the US Justice Department said.
US judicial authorities said in a statement they would dismiss several other counts against Ferdaus as part of a plea agreement reached in a federal court, following a case in which the suspect fell victim to an FBI sting.
Authorities described Ferdaus as an unmarried physics graduate from Boston’s Northeastern University. The al Qaeda supporter reportedly committed himself to “violent jihad” early last year.
He also apparently possessed a knack for technical work.
A white Playboy bunny graced the tail end of one of three model planes filled with C4 plastic explosives, slated to hit the Pentagon or blow the Capitol’s dome “to smithereens,” Ferdaus was quoted as saying in court files.
The attacks “ought to result in the downfall of this entire disgusting place,” he is alleged to have said of his plot to destroy the US landmarks.
Ferdaus reportedly called his models “small drone airplanes,” according to the FBI’s reports, in an echo of the United States’ contentious drone strikes against suspected militants in countries such as Yemen and Pakistan.
Ferdaus was also accused of modifying mobile phones for use as switches in bombs to kill US soldiers in Iraq and to have given the devices to FBI agents “he believed were members of or recruiters for al Qaeda.”
According to the original complaint, when told, falsely, one of his phones had been part of a bomb that killed three soldiers, he is alleged to have said: “That was exactly what I wanted.”
Ferdaus was captured as part of a sting operation in which he sought to procure explosive chemicals, grenades and firearms from undercover FBI agents.
Republican lawmaker Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee said Ferdaus’ plot underscored the need for “efforts to combat domestic radicalization and the evolving threat of ‘’lone wolf extremists.”