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Virginia Man Charged with Threatening to Carry Out Attacks in D.C.

Posted: December 16, 2010

A Virginia man has been arrested for allegedly threatening to detonate explosives in high-traffic areas of Washington, DC.


Awais Younis, 25, was arrested on December 6, 2010, after detailing the potential impact of pipe bombs during rush hour in a series of Facebook messages.  A criminal complaint unsealed in a Virginia federal court three days later charged Younis, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Afghanistan, with communicating threats using interstate communications.


The complaint alleges that, in online correspondence exchanged via Facebook and using the alias Sundullah Ghilzai, Younis described how to build a pipe bomb and discussed the impact of different types of shrapnel.  He allegedly identified the Georgetown neighborhood and two particular cars on Metro trains as ideal for maximizing casualties and claimed that he could place an explosive in those locations without being noticed. When the recipient of his messages questioned his willingness to carry out his plan, Younis responded “watch me,” according to the affidavit.


The FBI initiated an investigation into Younis’ online activity in late November 2010, after the Facebook user with whom he had been communicating shared information about their correspondence with the FBI.


In addition to the messages about pipe bombs, the individual alerted authorities to multiple photographs on Younis’ Facebook profile depicting weapons, according to the affidavit. One photo allegedly pictured Younis holding an AK-47 rifle and his uncle standing in front of a tent in Afghanistan that contained explosives. The corresponding caption read, “My family business.”


A second image depicted a hand with rounds for a machine gun and a caption that read “bullet behind every rock,” according to the affidavit, which has also alleged that Younis had recently posted, “Christmas trees were going to go boom.”


Younis made threatening remarks during a second round of correspondence, which the Facebook user reported to the FBI on December 5, according to the affidavit. Younis cautioned, “I know what you are up too [sic] and you better stop if you know what is good for you!!!!!” and, “im telling you right now you are going to regret doing what you did. for your peace i hope what i am hearing is all lies.”


Younis issued an additional warning to the individual, whose father commutes to work by the Metro: “do yourself a favor and tell your father to cancel work tomorrow.”


Additionally, Younis expressed solidarity with the individuals responsible for the September 11 terror attacks. He wrote, “That is the problem with Americans they cant leave well enough alone until something happends [sic] then they sit there wondering why we dropped the twin towers like a bad habit hahaha.”


The investigation that uncovered Younis’ alleged threats is the latest in a series of terror-related investigations that stemmed from discussion of criminal activity on mainstream social networking sites. The same month Younis was arrested, federal authorities arrested another naturalized U.S. citizen for attempting to detonate what he believed to be a car bomb at an Army recruiting center in Catonsville, Maryland.  The FBI reportedly first learned of the attempted bomber’s radical ideology from posts on his Facebook profile.


Younis’ arrest comes two months after a separate case in which Farooque Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Virginia, was arrested and charged with plotting coordinated terror attacks at Metro stations in the Washington Metropolitan Area.  Like Younis, Ahmed proposed the ideal location to place the explosives to maximize the number of casualties.

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