A Virginia man was arrested Wednesday and charged with trying to help people he believed were al-Qaida operatives planning to bomb subway stations around the nation's capital, the FBI said.
The public was never in danger, the FBI said, because its agents were aware of the man's activities before the alleged planning took place and monitored him throughout.
Farooque Ahmed, 34, a naturalized citizen born in Pakistan, had been indicted under seal Tuesday in Alexandria, and the indictment was released Wednesday. He 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 carry out multiple bombings to cause mass casualties at Washington-area metro stations. Ahmed lives in Ashburn, outside of Washington.
Federal investigators said that, starting in April, Ahmed met several times with people he believed were al-Qaida operatives. During one of those meetings, investigators said, he agreed to watch and photograph a hotel in Washington and a metro station in Arlington, Va. He also was accused of participating in surveillance, recording video of a subway station in Arlington on four different occasions, and agreeing to get security information about two stations.
During a Sept. 28 meeting, he gave diagrams of Arlington metro stations to a person he thought was part of al-Qaida and gave suggestions about where to put explosives on trains to kill the most people in simultaneous attacks planned for 2011, the investigators said.
At the White House, press secretary Robert Gibbs said President Barack Obama was aware of the investigation before Ahmed was arrested. Gibbs also offered assurances that the public was never in danger.
David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security, said the case "demonstrates how the government can neutralize such threats before they come to fruition."
"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," Kris said.
If convicted, Ahmed faces up to 50 years in prison.
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