By News Staff
A federal judge today sentenced Rezwan Ferdaus, the Northeastern graduate who devised a terror plot that included planned attacks on the US Capitol and Pentagon buildings, to 17 years in prison, according to the office of US Attorney Carmen M. Ortiz.
Ferdaus, who graduated from the university in 2008 with a bachelor’s degree in physics, pleaded guilty in July to charges of attempting to damage and destroy a federal building by means of an explosive and attempting to provide material support to terrorists. He faced a maximum of 35 years in prison under the two charges, but prosecutors and defense lawyers recommended the 17-year sentence as part of a plea agreement.
A resident of Ashland, Ferdaus planned to load remote-controlled aircrafts with five pounds each of plastic explosives before flying the devices into the Capitol and Pentagon buildings, according to court documents. FBI Special Agent Gary S. Cacace wrote in an affidavit last fall that as people inside the buildings flooded out, Ferdaus intended to shoot them using automatic weapons. He started planning his attack in 2010.
FBI personnel, who Ferdaus believed were al-Qaeda recruiters, met with him a number of times in the spring and summer of 2011. He thought they would provide artillery for his attack, including AK-47 assault rifles and grenades. At some of these meetings, Ferdaus provided cell phone detonators for improvised explosive devices. He thought the detonators were used to kill American soldiers in Afghanistan.
Cacace described the FBI investigation in his affidavit, saying that agents gave Ferdaus opportunities to stop pursuing the plot, but Ferdaus declined to turn back.