WASHINGTON – A Virginia man who believed he was trying to help al-Qaeda plan bombings at Washington area Metrorail stations was arrested on Wednesday, the Justice Department said.
Farooque Ahmed, 34, of Ashburn, was taken into custody early in the morning.
“Officials emphasized that at no time was the public in danger during this investigation and that the FBI was aware of Ahmed’s activities from before the alleged attempt began and closely monitored his activities until his arrest,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
Earlier this month, the United States and Britain warned of an increased risk of terrorist attacks in Europe, with Washington saying al-Qaeda might target transport infrastructure.
A federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment on Tuesday against Ahmed, who is a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, the Justice Department said.
“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,” said David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security.
“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 MacBride.
Mr. Ahmed was charged 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, Mr. Ahmed faces a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison, the Justice Department said.
© Thomson Reuters 2010