Accused D.C. drone bomber pleads not guilty

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

The bail hearing that had been scheduled for 26-year-old Rezwan Ferdaus of Ashland was delayed for several weeks because his lawyer, Catherine Byrne, asked for more time to prepare.

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

"This case was orchestrated and facilitated by the government," Byrne told reporters as she left the federal courthouse Monday. "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."

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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 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 came to show their support. Mehanna is scheduled for trial later this month; authorities say he conspired to provide material support to al Qaeda 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.

A sample illustration of a "drone" aircraft like the F-86 Sabre model obtained by Rezwan Ferdaus, measuring 60 to 80 inches in length and capable of speeds greater than 100 mph. They were to be guided by GPS and carry five pounds of explosives. DOJ