Mass. man charged in terror plot pleads not guilty

AP News
Posted: Oct 03, 2011 10:52 PM
Mass. man charged in terror plot pleads not guilty

A man accused of plotting to fly explosives-packed remote-controlled model planes into the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol pleaded not guilty Monday.

The bail hearing that had been scheduled for Rezwan Ferdaus, of Ashland, was delayed for several weeks because his lawyer, Catherine Byrne, asked for more time to prepare.

Authorities said Ferdaus, a 26-year-old Muslim American with a physics degree from Northeastern University, was arrested in Framingham last week after federal agents posing as al-Qaida members delivered what he believed was 24 pounds of C-4 explosive. They said the public was never in danger from the plot.

Byrne said the case was "orchestrated and facilitated by the government."

"We have asked for a continuance for additional time in order to prepare and to further investigate so that we can present a more complete picture of what happened," she told reporters as she left the federal courthouse Monday.

The arrest was the latest in a string of terror arrests to emerge from similar sting operations. A federal affidavit says Ferdaus began planning jihad, or holy war, against the U.S. in early 2010 after becoming convinced through jihadi websites and videos that America was evil.

A group of nearly a dozen family members and friends attended Ferdaus' court appearance. Several women, including his mother, wept as the charges against him were read. They shouted "We love you!" as he was led out of the courtroom; he quietly answered, "I love you, too."

Also in attendance were the parents of Tarek Mehanna, another Massachusetts man arrested in a different terror plot. They said they did not know Ferdaus' family but went to show their support. Mehanna is scheduled for trial later this month; authorities say he conspired to provide material support to al-Qaida and kill U.S. troops in Iraq.

Ferdaus faces as much as 100 years in prison on charges including attempting to damage and destroy national defense premises and attempting to provide material support to terrorists. A detention hearing is set for Oct. 20.