Pakistani-American arrested in Washington metro bombing plot

Published: October 28, 2010
Metro trains arrive at the Gallery Pl - Chinatown Station October 27, 2010 in Washington, DC. PHOTO: AFP

Metro trains arrive at the Gallery Pl - Chinatown Station October 27, 2010 in Washington, DC. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON: Federal officials in Washington arrested a Pakistani-American man Wednesday for plotting a series of bomb attacks on Washington’s subway system with people he believed were tied to al Qaeda.

Farooque Ahmed, 34, had been allegedly observing, videotaping and photographing Metro stations in the Virginia suburbs of Washington, including near the Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery, since April to plan the attacks set for next year.

Over the course of six months, he allegedly told contacts he believed to be linked to al Qaeda that he wanted to ‘kill as many military personnel as possible’ and suggested where bombs should be planted on Metro trains ‘to kill the most people.’

‘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.

Ahmed, a naturalized US citizen who was born in Pakistan, later appeared in a Virginia court to hear the charges against him.

They included attempting to provide material support to a terror group, collecting information to help plan a terror attack and seeking to help carry out multiple bombings and cause mass casualties in the Washington area.

If convicted, he could be jailed for up to 50 years.

According to the indictment, Ahmed, of Ashburn, Virginia, is said to have spent months doing the groundwork for the attacks after an initial meeting in April with a courier he met at a Virginia hotel.

On several occasions over the next few months, he allegedly photographed, videotaped and drew diagrams of Metro stations, including at Arlington Cemetery, where military personnel and several US presidents are buried.

The targeted stations, which also included Pentagon City and Court House, are among the busiest in the area and are often crowded.

He allegedly gathered information about security and the busiest times at the stations, and handed the data last month to ‘an individual he believed to be affiliated with al Qaeda,’ the indictment said.

The document said Ahmed suggested where to place the explosives on trains ‘to kill the most people in simultaneous attacks,’ and wanted the attacks to take place at the start of the evening rush hour.

He proposed using rolling suitcases to carry the bombs into the Metro stations.

And he wanted an additional attack mounted at another station near the Pentagon, ‘to kill as many military personnel as possible,’ the indictment added.

US Attorney Neil MacBride called the Virginia man’s alleged plans ‘chilling.’

The US public was never in danger from the alleged plot, and President Barack Obama was informed about it before Ahmed’s arrest, the White House said.

No indication of extremist activity’

Ahmed’s neighbor Anushaya Fitzgerald told AFP she was stunned when she learned of his arrest.

‘I came home about noon and there was FBI and cops all over the place’ in the quiet suburban Virginia neighborhood.

There was ‘no indication at all’ that Ahmed, was involved in any extremist activity, she said.

Ahmed holds a bachelor’s degree in computer science from The City University of New York and was pursuing a graduate degree online in risk management and data security from Aspen University, according to a profile in his name on social networking website LinkedIn. It said he was working at telecommunications firm Ericsson.

Ahmed is married and has a small son but Fitzgerald said they had left.

He is being held by US marshals and is due in court again on Friday for a detention hearing.

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Reader Comments (7)

  • IZ
    Oct 28, 2010 - 11:17AM

    I dream of the day I will open by the news and come across a headline that says “Pakistani Discovers Cure for Cancer” or “Pakistani Finds New Way to Fight Global Warming” or “Pakistani Invents New Way to Eradicate Poverty”. Sigh. While I wait for that I’ll keep coming across headlines like this…Recommend

  • Babruk
    Oct 28, 2010 - 12:50PM

    good riddance. he should be jailed for life.Recommend

  • Talha
    Oct 28, 2010 - 3:21PM

    Another Qaum Ka Beta in action.

    Pakistani youth, making the nation proud since Kansi.Recommend

  • Maz
    Oct 28, 2010 - 4:28PM

    Why every wrong thing Pakistanis are involved,Im always ashamed to see my countrymen doing these filthy things.There are other poor countries in world but they dont indulge in such bad things.Pakistan should give up sending terrorist to india and rest of the countries, I feel what goes around comes around or in other words what you sow,so shall you reap.How Sad Im really disappointed!!God save our countryRecommend

  • Anoop
    Oct 29, 2010 - 6:04PM

    India has as many Muslims as Pakistan, almost. According to some Pakistanis they are very unhappy under the cruel Hindu leaders but none of them turn to Terror or go for Jihad against America or in Afghanistan. Interesting. Recommend

  • amjad
    Oct 29, 2010 - 9:23PM

    These characters may be terrorist or would be terrorist for America and rest of the world, but it is time that these characters are also classified as non-muslims. The deen which asks to do good and forbid the bad (maroof & munkir) should not include classify them as muslims. And when they die no Salat-Janaza should be performed for them. It is time the Ulemas from all over the world should unite and called them, for what they are. As for as Pakistani or Ex-Pakistani classification is concerned, seems like that is all Pakistanis are doing. They have no fear of Almighty and there is no good role model for them to follow. When characters with questionable past, pose and acts as leaders, what else one can expect. Act of terrorism should be considered act of treason by civil societies and people convicted of these crimes should be put to death. Few cases of public shame, terrorism and threat of terrorism will be over.Recommend

  • Rajat
    Oct 29, 2010 - 11:02PM

    Sad indeed…
    It is shocking that a person having a family, reasonably well to do with a job, and thirst for doing better (read higher education) is indulging in these henious activities.
    The question to be asked is what in the world could possibly motivate this man to commit these crimes?Recommend

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