Massachusetts man pleads guilty to Capitol, Pentagon bombing plot

A Massachusetts man arrested by the FBI and charged with plotting to blow up the Capitol and Pentagon has plead guilty in criminal court.

Rezwan Ferdaus, 26, plead guilty Tuesday to attempting to damage and destroy a federal building by means of an explosive and attempting to provide material support to terrorists, according to a statement from the Department of Justice (DOJ).

Charges against Ferdaus stem from a September 2011 arrest in connection with a plot to damage the Capitol and Pentagon buildings using a large remote controlled aircraft outfitted with C-4 plastic explosives, the DOJ claims.

“With the goal of terrorizing the United States, decapitating its ‘military center,’ and killing as many ‘kafirs’ (an Arabic term meaning non-believers) as possible, Ferdaus extensively planned and took substantial steps to bomb the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol,” the DOJ statement said.

A Northeastern University graduate with a degree in physics, Ferdaus was arrested as part of an FBI sting operation involving undercover agents, in which he was made to believe he was working with members of al Qaeda.

“On Sept. 28, 2011, Ferdaus requested and instructed the undercover FBI employees (UCE) to deliver explosives and firearms (material represented to Ferdaus to contain 25 pounds of C-4 explosives, including approximately 1.25 pounds of actual C-4 explosives, three grenades and six fully automatic AK-47 assault rifles) for his attack plan,” according to the DOJ.

“While inspecting the explosives and firearms in the UCEs’ vehicle and inside his storage unit, Ferdaus placed some of the explosives inside a remote controlled aircraft that he had ordered and obtained for his attack plan,” the statement added. “Ferdaus then locked the explosives and firearms in his storage unit at which time he was placed under arrest.”

The DOJ noted that at no time was the public in danger from the explosive devices, which were closely monitored by the FBI.

In exchange for Tuesday’s plea deal, the government will dismiss several remaining charges against him. Under the terms of his plea agreement, Ferdaus will face 17 years in prison followed by 10 years of supervised release.

This is the second plea deal stemming from a planned attack on the Capitol in as many months. In June, a suspect in a planned suicide bombing attack on Congress also plead guilty to charges in federal court.

Amine El Khalifi, 29, plead to charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against property that is owned and used by the United States. Those charges stem from the illegal Moroccan immigrant’s alleged role in a thwarted suicide bombing attack on the U.S. Capitol on Feb. 17.

Alexandria, Va. resident El Khalifi’s arrest was also the culmination of an extensive investigation by the FBI, which included undercover agents posing as members of al Qaeda.

“He absolutely was the real deal,” Neil MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said of the threat El Khalifi posed. “He believed he was working with an al Qaeda operative.”