Virginia Man Arrested For Plot Against D.C. Metro Stations

Another undercover sting nets a would-be terrorist.

Once again, a law enforcement sting operation snares a would-be terrorist:

A Pakistani-born U.S. citizen was arrested Wednesday on charges of planning bombings at Metrorail stations in the Washington, D.C., area after an FBI sting operation, the Justice Department announced.

“Farooque Ahmed, 34, of Ashburn, Va., was arrested today for attempting to assist others whom he believed to be members of al-Qaida,” the department said in a statement.

A grand jury returned an indictment against Ahmed on Tuesday, “charging him 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,” the department added.

(…)

The department said the indictment laid out this timeline of events:

  • On April 18, “Ahmed allegedly drove to a hotel in Dulles, Va., and met with a courier he believed to be affiliated with a terrorist organization who provided Ahmed with a document that provided potential locations at which future meetings could be arranged.”
  • On or about May 15, “at a hotel in Herndon, Va., Ahmed allegedly agreed to watch and photograph another hotel in Washington, D.C., and a Metrorail station in Arlington, Va., to obtain information about their security and busiest periods.”
  • On or about July 19, “in a hotel room in Sterling, Va., Ahmed allegedly handed a memory stick containing video images of a Metrorail station in Arlington to an individual whom Ahmed believed to be affiliated with al-Qaida.”
  • On that same day, “Ahmed allegedly agreed to assess the security of two other Metrorail stations in Arlington as locations of terrorist attacks.”
  • On or about Sept. 28, “in a hotel room in Herndon, Ahmed handed a USB drive containing images of two Metrorail stations in Arlington to an individual whom Ahmed believed to be affiliated with al-Qaida.”
  • On or about Sept. 28, “Ahmed provided to an individual whom he believed to be affiliated with al-Qaida diagrams that Ahmed drew of three Metrorail stations in Arlington and provided suggestions as to where explosives should be placed on trains in Metrorail stations in Arlington to kill the most people in simultaneous attacks planned for 2011.

As has been the case in many cases since the 9/11 attacks, this seems to be one of those situations where a wanna-be terrorist makes contact with what he believes to be an agent of al-Qaeda and then proceeds to engage in acts that would clearly constitute a criminal conspiracy to commit terrorism.If nothing else, it demonstrates to some degree the effectiveness of law enforcement efforts to root out al Qaeda sympathizers who don’t otherwise have contact with radical elements in the United States.

It isn’t a perfect way to fight terrorism, of course. Undercover operations didn’t stop the Times Square bomber, after all, and they didn’t stop Major Nidal Hasan from going on a shooting spree at Fort Hood. Nonetheless, there is something slightly comforting about the knowledge that guys like Ahmed are getting caught before they can actually do anything .

FILED UNDER: Terrorism
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Michael Reynolds says:

    It’s good to remember that in cases like this ther is very often an informer. Someone close to the would be terrorist. That person is very likely to be a correligionist.

  2. Most probably, yea.

  3. Herb says:

    I’ve always been a supporter of the law enforcement approach to terrorism. It seems to work pretty well.

  4. Dave Schuler says:

    If nothing else, it demonstrates to some degree the effectiveness of law enforcement efforts to root out al Qaeda sympathizers who don’t otherwise have contact with radical elements in the United States.

    I’m not so sure. Would this guy have done anything whatever to act on his sympathies without the sting operation? I wonder what the cost per terrorist is and whether this is finding terrorists or just manufacturing them.

  5. Dave

    Yea that thought entered my head too.

    On the other hand, as Oklahoma City proved even a bunch of wanna-be terrorists can cause damage if they meet up with the right people

  6. James H says:

    This case makes me uncomfortable. I read through the news coverage and the indictment. I can’t help noticing that with the exception of Mr. Ahmed, every player in this “conspiracy” was an undercover FBI agent. When a friend told me about this, I though, “Entrapment?”

    Am I wrong to think this?

  7. george says:

    “It’s good to remember that in cases like this ther is very often an informer. Someone close to the would be terrorist. That person is very likely to be a correligionist.”

    A good point which is usually overlooked.

  8. anjin-san says:

    No gulag or waterboard required…