US man sentenced to 17 years in terror plot



Boston: A man was today sentenced to 17 years in prison in a plot to fly remote-controlled model planes packed with explosives into the Pentagon and US Capitol.

Rezwan Ferdaus, 27, of Massachusetts pleaded guilty in July to attempting to provide material support to terrorists and attempting to damage and destroy federal buildings with an explosive.

Ferdaus delivered a long, soft-spoken statement to the federal court today 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 was arrested last year after federal employees posing as members of al Qaeda 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. Ferdaus grew up in Massachusetts and has a physics degree from Northeastern University.

Prosecutors have said Ferdaus began planning a holy war against the United States in 2010 after jihadi websites and videos convinced him that America is evil. He later approached a federal informant and met with undercover agents to discuss a plot.

Counterterrorism experts and model-aircraft enthusiasts have said it would be nearly impossible to inflict large-scale damage using model planes.

Prosecutors said Ferdaus also wanted to kill US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan using improvised explosive devices detonated by modified cellphones. Ferdaus' lawyers had suggested that the FBI ignored signs of mental illness in Ferdaus while investigating him, but prosecutors said he was obviously lucid and intelligent, and noted the defense didn't request a mental evaluation.

PTI