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Feds Bust Northern Va. Man Who Plotted to Blow Up D.C. Area Subways


By Allan Lengel
ticklethewire.com

The FBI busted a northern Virginia man on charges that he conspired with people he thought were al Qaeda operatives to blow up subway stations in the Washington Metro system, authorities announced Wednesday.

FBI agents arrested Farooque Ahmed, 34, of Ashburn, Va., on Wednesday morning on charges of conspiring with others to blow up subway stations at Arlington National Cemetery, Pentagon City, Crystal City and Court House.

Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan, initially grabbed the attention of law enforcement when he sought out unspecified materials.

An attack was not imminent and the public was never in danger, authorities said. The Associated Press reported that the case involved a sting, but the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Alexandria, Va. declined to comment on that.

Peter Carr, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, said the defendant made his initial appearance on Wednesday. A detention hearing is set for Friday at 2 p.m.

“Today’s case underscores the need for continued vigilance against terrorist threats and demonstrates how the government can neutralize such threats before they come to fruition,” David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security said in a statement. “Farooque Ahmed is accused of plotting with individuals he believed were terrorists to bomb our transit system, but a coordinated law enforcement and intelligence effort was able to thwart his plans.”

Authorities said the FBI closely monitored his activities until his arrest.

A federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va., returned a three-count indictment against Ahmed on Tuesday. Specifically, he is charged with providing material support to a designated terrorist organization, collecting information to assist in planning a terrorist attack on a transit facility, and attempting to provide material support to help carry out multiple bombings to cause mass casualties at D.C.-area Metrorail stations. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison.

According to the indictment, from April 2010 through Oct. 25, 2010, Ahmed attempted to assist others whom he believed to be members of al-Qaeda in planning multiple bombings to” cause mass casualties at Metrorail stations.”

Authorities allege that on April 18, 2010, Ahmed drove to a hotel in Dulles, Va., and “met with a courier he believed to be affiliated with a terrorist organization who provided Ahmed with a document that provided potential locations at which future meetings could be arranged. On or about May 15, 2010, at a hotel in Herndon, Va., Ahmed allegedly agreed to watch and photograph another hotel in Washington, D.C., and a Metrorail station in Arlington, Va., to obtain information about their security and busiest periods.”

The indictment also alleges that Ahmed participated in surveillance and recorded video images of Metrorail stations in Arlington, Va., on four occasions.

Around July 19, in a Sterling, Va. hotel, Ahmed handed a memory stick with video images of a Metrorail station in Arlington to someone he thought was an al Qaeda operative, authorities alleged. On that same day, Ahmed allegedly agreed to assess the security of two other Metrorail stations in Arlington for locations to bomb, authorities said.

On Sept. 28, in a Herndon, Va., hotel Ahmed handed a USB drive containing images of two Metrorail stations in Arlington to an individual he thought was linked to al Qaeda, authorities said. Around the same time, he also provided diagrams he drew of three Metrorail stations in Arlington and ” provided suggestions as to where explosives should be placed on trains in Metrorail stations in Arlington to kill the most people in simultaneous attacks planned for 2011,” authorities said.


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