From The Telegraph U.K.
Man arrested over ‘terror plot’ to bomb Washington DC trains
A naturalised American citizen born in Pakistan has been arrested over bomb plots on railway stations in the US capital that could have caused mass casualties, the FBI said.
By Alex Spillius in Washington
Published: 10:26PM BST 27 Oct 2010
Farooque Ahmed, 34, of Ashburn, Virginia, was charged with trying to help people posing as al-Qaeda operatives planning to launch simultaneous bomb attacks on railway stations around Washington DC.
The public was never in danger because FBI agents were aware of Ahmed’s activities and monitored him throughout, the agency said. And the people that Ahmed thought were al-Qaeda operatives were actually individuals who “worked on behalf of the government in this matter,” according to a federal law enforcement official who requested anonymity.
The arrest appeared to have all the hallmarks of a sting operation, but the FBI refused to confirm this.
Ahmed faces 50 years in prison for charges of attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organisation, collecting information to assist in planning a terrorist attack on a transit facility, and attempting to provide material support to carry out multiple bombings to cause mass casualties.
According to the indictment, Ahmed took video footage of four northern Virginia subway stations, two of them near the Pentagon, and monitored the security at a hotel in Washington.
In a series of meetings at hotels in northern Virginia, Ahmed provided these videos and diagrams of two of the stations to someone he believed was part of a terrorist organisation, and also said he wanted to donate $10,000 (£6,300) to help the overseas fight and collect donations in a way that would not raise red flags.
U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said in a statement that it was “chilling that a man from Ashburn is accused of casing rail stations with the goal of killing as many Metro (subway) riders as possible through simultaneous bomb attacks”.
Andrew Ames, a spokesman for the FBI Washington field office, declined to comment on how authorities first learned about Ahmed.
During a brief appearance in federal court in Alexandria on Wednesday, Ahmed did not enter a plea and was ordered to be held without bond. He told U.S. Magistrate Judge John Anderson he could not afford to hire a lawyer. Prosecutors said they planned to use some classified information as evidence in the case.
Since the September 11 attacks, the US authorities have worried about another attack on American soil.
Last week, a Jordanian national was sentenced to 24 years in prison for attempting to blow up a Dallas skyscraper. Earlier this month, Pakistani-born American Faisal Shahzad was sentenced to life in prison for trying to set off a car bomb in New York’s Times Square.