A former resident of a Boston suburb agreed to plead guilty Tuesday to plotting attacks on the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol and attempting to provide material support to al-Qaida terrorists.
Rezwan Ferdaus, who lives in Ashland, Mass, was arrested last September in connection with a plot to use remote-controlled planes to fly bombs into the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol. Ferdaus also made electrical switches to detonate explosive devices that he planned to provide to al-Qaida terrorists targeting American troops stationed overseas. Ferdaus was later charged in a six-count indictment. He pleaded guilty to two counts that included attempting to damage and destroy a federal building by means of an explosive and attempting to provide material support to terrorists.
Ferdaus was arrested in a federal law enforcement sting operation. He told undercover agents posing as al-Qaida operatives that attack America's "military center" and kill as many "kafirs" (Arabic term for non-believers) as possible, an affidavit said. He shrugged off an undercover agent's concern that such an attack might kill women and children, saying, "Every kafir [non-believer] is an enemy" and consequently, "every kafir [sic] blood is okay."
Ferdaus visited Washington in May 2011 to scout targets for attack. He took pictures of the Pentagon, U.S. Capitol, and an area in East Potomac Park from where he proposed to launch the bomb-laden aircraft. He also confided in an FBI informant that attacking the Pentagon would "eliminate and terrify all enemies of Allah. We have this project started ... This is, this is what we have to do. This is the righteous way ... [to] terrorize enemies of Allah."
Ferdaus, who has a bachelor's degree in physics from Northeastern University, also supplied 12 cellular phones that had been adapted to act as electrical switches for bombs to undercover agents posing as al-Qaida members. When the undercover agents told Ferdaus the phone detonation devices had helped kill American troops in Iraq, he replied, "this is exactly what I wanted and I feel so blessed…." Ferdaus subsequently delivered four more phone detonation devices to the undercover agents.
According to the plea agreement, Ferdaus has agreed to a sentence of 17 years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release. His plea hearing is scheduled for Friday.