Photo Courtesy: WMATA by Larry Levine
On Wednesday, Farooque Ahmed, 34, of Ashburn, Va., was arrested for attempting to assist others whom he believed to be members of al Qaeda in planning multiple bombings at Metrorail stations in the Washington, D.C., area.
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," said 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. We are grateful for the outstanding work of the FBI in detecting and disrupting this plot."
On Tuesday, a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va., returned a three-count indictment against Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, 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. 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.
In April, 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. At a hotel in Herndon, Va., in mid-May, 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.
According to the indictment, Ahmed allegedly participated in surveillance and recorded video images of Metrorail stations in Arlington, Va., on four occasions. Around mid-July, Ahmed allegedly handed a memory stick containing video images of a Metrorail station in Arlington to an individual whom he believed to be affiliated with al Qaeda and, allegedly, agreed to assess the security of two other Metrorail stations in Arlington as locations of terrorist attacks.
The indictment further alleges that, in late September, 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.
According to the indictment, around that same time Ahmed provided to an individual whom he believed to be affiliated with al Qaeda diagrams that Ahmed 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.
This case is being investigated by the FBI's Washington Field Office Joint Terrorism Task Force, which includes 35 agencies in the Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C., metropolitan area.