Federal agents arrested a man Wednesday for plotting to bomb the Washington, D.C., subway system, the Justice Department announced.
It was the second arrest in as many days involving Americans hoping to wage violence for al-Qaida or the Taliban, and federal law enforcement officials believe it is part of a wider attempt to launch terrorist attacks.
Farooque Ahmed, 34, of Ashburn, Va., was indicted Wednesday for infractions including attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization, and attempting to provide material support to help carry out multiple bombings in the D.C. subway.
Ahmed's arrest follows that of Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, arrested Tuesday in Hawaii for lying about a failed attempt to go to Pakistan and join the Taliban.
Shehadeh said he was planning to travel to Pakistan to wage jihad, but after that plan failed he tried to join the U.S. Army. According to the indictment, Shehadeh said that in the Army he "would be provided with training, transportation and a weapon" that would help him attack Americans.
Ahmed and Shehadeh are considered to be part of a wider plan by U.S. citizens or residents hoping to serve elements of the Taliban and al-Qaida to conduct terrorist attacks throughout the country, a federal law enforcement official told IPT News.
There are multiple ongoing investigations of radical Muslims who are believed to have received training or direction from Pakistan-based terror groups in order to carry out attacks here, the official said. In the last eight months, U.S. authorities have detected a dramatic increase in the number of planned Islamic terrorist attacks in the United States or against Western targets abroad.
Evidence for this comes from four categories, the official said.
- Actual tracking of foreign terrorist recruiters, including some with U.S. passports, who have been sent here to select terrorist candidates to carry out major attacks in the United States.
- Evidence showing a substantive increase in international travel of terrorist operatives into the United States and Europe.
- A substantial increase in the "terrorist chatter" that has preceded previous major attacks.
- The capture and interrogations of key Islamic terrorists by U.S. allies who have revealed details of plots.
Al-Qaida leaders outside the United States have increased their calls for attacks in this country. In May, Anwar al-Awlaki, an American cleric believed to be living in Yemen, issued a 45-minute video urging attacks on American civilians to retaliate for the deaths of Muslims in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.
On Sunday, Adam Gadahn, a U.S. citizen turned al-Qaida leader, issued an Internet call for followers to stage attacks in the United States. "It is the duty of everyone who is sincere in his desire to defend Islam and Muslims today, to take the initiative to perform the individual obligation of jihad," Gadahn said in Arabic in the video.
Detailing the planned attacks, Ahmed told undercover officers he had taken notes and video to document security procedures and when the stops were the most crowded.
Ahmed, the indictment said, determined the best time for an attack would be between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. Attacks then would cause the most casualties.
Ahmed is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon in federal court in Alexandria, Va. If convicted, Ahmed could face up to 50 years in prison.
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