The Massachusetts man charged with plotting to attack the Pentagon and the U.S. Capitol with remote-controlled model airplanes filled with explosives entered a guilty plea in a Boston federal court on Friday.

Rezwan Ferdaus told a packed courtroom, including his distraught family members, that he would accept the plea deal for a 17-year prison term that was hammered out by his attorneys and prosecutors this month.

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Ferdaus, 26, of Ashland, Massachusetts, pled guilty to attempting to destroy and damage a federal building, and attempting to provide material support to terrorists.

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Ferdaus was arrested after an FBI investigation during which he requested and took delivery of plastic explosives, three grenades and six assault rifles from undercover FBI agents that he believed were members of al-Qaida.

At the time of his arrest, the physics graduate from Boston’s Northeastern University had obtained one remote-controlled aircraft, a scale model of a U.S. Navy F-86 Sabre fighter jet about the size of a picnic table.

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The government had alleged that Ferdaus told undercover agents of his plans to commit acts of violence against the United States by “decapitating” its “military center” and killing “kafirs,” an Arabic term meaning non-believers.

Prosecutors said Ferdaus began planning jihad, or holy war, against the United States in 2010 after becoming convinced through jihadi websites and videos that America was evil. {snip}

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[Assistant DA Stephanie] Siegmann said there were two main parts of his plan: to blow up the Pentagon and U.S. Capitol using remote-controlled planes and to kill American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan using improvised explosive devices detonated by modified cellphones.

The planes, measuring 60 to 80 inches in length and capable of speeds greater than 100 mph, would be guided by GPS and packed with 5 pounds each of plastic explosives.

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Siegmann said Ferdaus modified 12 cellphones so they could act as an electrical switch for an IED.

After giving the first device to the undercover agents, the agents lied and told him it had been used in Iraq and killed three U.S. soldiers.

Siegmann said Ferdaus was “visibly excited” to learn his device had been used successfully and said, “That was exactly what I wanted.”

Ferdaus told Judge Richard Stearns that he was being treated for mild depression and anxiety before he was arrested and is now taking anti-anxiety medication.

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Ferdaus is a Muslim born and raised in Massachusetts to parents of Bangladeshi descent.

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