Would-be bomber of Capitol and Pentagon pleads guilty

 Rezwan Ferdaus, second left, and his attorney Catherine Byrne, left, stand during Ferdaus' arraignment hearing in federal court in October. Rezwan Ferdaus, second left, and his attorney Catherine Byrne, left, stand during Ferdaus' arraignment hearing in federal court in October. Jane Flavell Collins/AP

A Boston-area native pleaded guilty in federal court Friday to charges of plotting to fly remote-controlled planes filled with explosives into the U.S. Capitol Building and the Pentagon, according to the Associated Press.

Rezwan Ferdaus of Ashland, Mass., reached an agreement with prosecutors in which four charges were dropped in exchange for his guilty pleas to attempting to provide material support to terrorists and planning to damage and destroy federal buildings by means of an explosive, AP reported. Ferdaus faced up to 35 years in prison, but his lawyers successfully argued for a reduced sentence of 17 years.

He allegedly planned to fly three remote controlled planes packed with a combined 15 pounds of explosives into the Capitol Building and the Pentagon. He was arrested in 2011 when undercover federal agents posing as al Qaeda members met with him to deliver grenades, machine guns and the explosive material C-4, AP said.

Ferdaus, who holds a physics degree from Northeastern University, has argued he suffered from mental illness and was encouraged by an undercover FBI agent to take part in the plot. His hearing was held in a U.S. District Court in Boston.

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