Federal authorities have arrested and charged a Virginia man for plotting coordinated terror attacks at Metro stations in the Washington Metropolitan Area.
An indictment filed in a Virginia federal court on October 26, 2010, charged Farooque Ahmed, 34, with attempting to provide material support to terrorists and to a designated terrorist organization and with collecting information to assist in planning a terrorist attack on a transit facility. Ahmed, who was arrested the following day, pleaded not guilty to the charges the following month. He faces a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison if convicted.
The indictment alleges that, from April through October 2010, Ahmed attempted to assist "others whom he believed to be members of Al Qaeda" in plotting multiple bombings at Washington, D.C. area Metro stations. Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen from Pakistan, allegedly conducted surveillance, recorded video and assessed the security at the Arlington Cemetery, Courthouse and Pentagon City Metrorail stations as potential locations for simultaneous attacks planned for 2011. He subsequently provided his recordings and images, as well as sketched diagrams of the Arlington, Virginia, train stations, to the purported Al Qaeda members.
Ahmed also allegedly conducted surveillance of the Crystal City Metrorail station and offered to provide the bombers with Metrocards. He was arrested by federal authorities before providing the supposed Al Qaeda members with his surveillance images and video at their meeting scheduled for the end of October.
The indictment further alleges that Ahmed proposed the ideal time to stage an attack – between 4:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. – to maximize the number of casualties. He also suggested that the bombs should be contained in rolling suitcases, instead of carrying the bombs in backpacks, and advised exactly where the explosives should be placed. According to the indictment, Ahmed wanted to "kill as many military personnel as possible."
In addition to helping plan the U.S.-based attacks, Ahmed allegedly told the purported Al Qaeda members that "he might be ready to travel overseas to conduct jihad in January 2011" after making hajj, the annual pilgrimage to Mecca, in November. According to an affidavit filed in support of the case, Ahmed initially drew the attention of federal authorities when, in January 2010, he tried to contact foreign terrorist groups to facilitate overseas travel to fight against American and coalition forces in Afghanistan or Pakistan. Ahmed had previously purchased various firearms, including rifles and a shotgun, to use in training for future attacks against American troops.
Ahmed also claimed that he wanted to donate $10,000 to "support the brothers overseas, and that he would collect donations from others "even if he had to do it in the name of another cause," according to the affidavit.
At the time of his arrest, federal authorities recovered firearms and ammunition from Ahmed's residence. Also recovered were documents from Hizb ut-Tahrir, an international organization that seeks to establish a worldwide Islamic theocracy, and CDs containing lectures and speeches given by Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric living in Yemen who has been designated by the U.S. as a "key leader" for Al Qaeda.