Trains move through the Farragut West Metro rail station. Photo via WMATA.
Federal agents have arrested a Pakistan-born Virginia man who collaborated with others he believed were members of Al-Qaeda to plan multiple bombings at Metrorail stations in the D.C. area, the FBI announced today.
Farooque Ahmed, 34, of Ashburn, Va., was taken into custody earlier today.
The feds snared Ahmed using people who worked on behalf of the government to create a ruse for a bombing plot during the past six months. Ahmed handed over video of northern Virginia subway stations, suggested using rolling suitcases rather than backpacks to kill as many people as possible and offered to donate money to Al-Qaeda's cause overseas.
The public was not in danger during this investigation, because the FBI was aware of Ahmed's activities from before the alleged attempt began and closely monitored his activities until his arrest. There was no threat against Metrorail or the general public in the D.C. area.
"It's chilling that a man from Ashburn is accused of casing rail stations with the goal of killing as many Metro riders as possible through simultaneous bomb attacks," according to U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride. "Today's arrest highlights the terrorism threat that exists in Northern Virginia and our ability to find those seeking to harm U.S. citizens and neutralize them before they can act."
On Tuesday, a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va., indicted Ahmed, charging him with attempting to provide 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. The maximum penalty, if convicted, is 50 years in prison.
From April through Oct. 25, 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. On April 18, Ahmed allegedly 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.
During a mid-May hotel meeting in Herndon, Va., Ahmed allegedly agreed to watch and photograph another D.C. hotel and a Metrorail station in Arlington, Va., to obtain information about their security and busiest periods.
Ahmed allegedly participated in surveillance and recorded video images of Metrorail stations in Arlington, Va., on four occasions. During a mid-July meeting in a hotel room in Sterling, Va., Ahmed allegedly handed a memory stick containing video images of a Metrorail station in Arlington to an individual Ahmed believed was affiliated with Al-Qaeda. Ahmed also allegedly agreed to assess the security of two other Metrorail stations in Arlington as possible terrorist targets.
In late September, in a hotel room in Herndon, Ahmed handed a USB drive containing images of two Metrorail stations in Arlington to an individual whom Ahmed believed to be affiliated with Al-Qaeda.
Ahmed also provided diagrams he drew of three Metrorail stations in Arlington and suggested locations where explosives should be placed on trains in Metrorail stations in Arlington to kill the most people in simultaneous attacks planned for 2011.