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US model plane bomb plotter sentenced to 17 years

A Boston court has jailed a US al Qaeda supporter for 17 years for plotting to bomb the Pentagon and the Capitol using remote-controlled planes. Rezwan Ferdaus was caught in a 2011 FBI sting and pleaded guilty in July.

Rezwan Ferdaus will serve 17 years in prison followed by a further 10 years of supervised release, according to a Justice Department official in Massachusetts. He was arrested in September 2011 after requesting and taking delivery of weapons and explosives from undercover FBI agents.

Ferdaus pleaded guilty in July to plotting to bomb the Pentagon and US Capitol buildings using model planes laden with explosives, with Thursday's sentence the result of a plea bargain with US authorities.

"His actions were self-initiated, deliberate and dangerous," First Assistant US Attorney Jack Pirozzolo said. "He intended to unleash horrific acts of violence against the people of the United States both here and abroad."

The US national flag flies at half-mast at the US Capitol Building to observe the death of Democratic Senator Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, in Washington DC, USA, 26 August 2009.

Prosecutors said Ferdaus planned to blow the Capitol's dome 'to smithereens'

Prosecutors said that Ferdaus described his plans to the undercover agents in detail during the sting. He also provided the agents with mobile phones modified to trigger bombs, believing they would be used against US personnel in Iraq.

Around two dozen of the 27-year-old's family and friends were in the Boston courtroom to support him as he read a lengthy statement saying that he had used his time in custody for self-reflection and accepted his fate.

Before issuing his ruling, Judge Richard Stearns commended Ferdaus' introspection.

"You don't need any lecture from me. Your statement convinces me that you have the character and the capacity to search your own soul," Stearns said. "I'm going to leave it to you to finish that journey."

Shortly before his arrest, Ferdaus took delivery of plastic explosives, three grenades and six AK-47 assault rifles, placing some of the explosive inside scale models of US fighter jets. Auhorities said the explosives were always under the control of federal officials and that the sting had posed no threat to the public.

Located in Arlington, Virginia, the Pentagon is the headquarters of the United States Department of Defense, while the Capitol building in Washington, DC is the traditional meeting place of the US Congress.

msh/ch (AFP, Reuters)