A plea agreement would see Rezwan Ferdaus serve 17 years for planning to blow up the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol with large explosive-laden model airplanes.
As the Boston Globe reports, the plea agreement was filed yesterday in the U.S. District Court in Boston. Under the plea bargain, Ferdaus, 26, will plead guilty to one count of attempting to damage and destroy a federal building by means of an explosive and one count of attempting to provide material support for terrorists.
Prosecutors and his lawyers have agreed to a sentence of 17 years in prison and the four remaining charges against Ferdaus will be dropped. Had Ferdaus gone to trial on all counts, he faced a sentence of life imprisonment if convicted.
Ferdaus, an American citizen, was arrested on Sept. 28, 2011 while he was working with undercover FBI agents he thought were Al Qaeda recruiters. The 26-year-old planned to fly large remote controlled model airplanes, filled with explosives, into the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol building.
Ferdaus had already obtained one model plane that he bought and stored under an assumed name. The plane was purchased with $7,000 he obtained from the agents. The FBI also provided Ferdaus with C-4 explosives, grenades, and AK-47 assault rifles. The plan was to attack people who managed to flee the buildings after the explosions. He also converted eight mobile telephones into detonators for improvised explosive devices and gave them to the agents.
Boston.com quoted from an affidavit prepared by FBI Special Agent Gary S. Cacace last September. In the affidavit, Cacace writes that Ferdaus said, "I just can't stop; there is no other choice for me. This is what we have to do. This is the righteous way...to terrorize the enemies of Allah."
The FBI claims Ferdaus was under their control the entire time he had the weapons and no one was ever in any danger.
WBUR reports both counter-terrorism experts and model airplane enthusiasts say the planes would not have caused the large-scale damage Ferdaus intended. The planes are too small to carry sufficient explosives and are very difficult to control.
Ferdaus, who resided in Ashland, Massachusetts, has a degree in physics from Northeastern University. His only record is for an act of vandalism when he was in high school.
Ferdaus originally pleaded not guilty to the charges against him. A change-of-plea hearing is scheduled for July 20.