MINNEAPOLIS MN May 7 2013 (AP) — The FBI believes authorities disrupted “a localized terror attack” in its planning stages when they arrested a man after converging on a western Minnesota mobile home that contained Molotov cocktails, suspected pipe bombs and firearms, the agency said Monday.
Buford Rogers, 24, of Montevideo, was arrested Friday and charged with one count of being a felon in possession of a firearm. He remained in federal custody Monday and it was not clear if he had an attorney.
“The FBI believed there was a terror attack in its planning stages, and we believe there would have been a localized terror attack, and that’s why law enforcement moved quickly to execute the search warrant on Friday to arrest Mr. Rogers,” FBI spokesman Kyle Loven said Monday.
Loven declined to elaborate about the location of the alleged target, other than to say it was believed to be in Montevideo, a city of about 5,000 people about 130 miles west of Minneapolis. He also declined to say whether Rogers was believed to be acting alone or as part of a group, or if other arrests were expected.
“This is a very active investigation,” he said.
In a news release Monday, the FBI said it believed “the lives of several local residents were potentially saved” by the search and arrest, and said “several guns and explosive devices were discovered.” The agency said the alleged terror plot was discovered through analysis of intelligence gathered by local, state and federal authorities.
“Cooperation between the FBI and its federal, state, and local partners enabled law enforcement to prevent a potential tragedy in Montevideo,” Christopher Warrener, the special agent in charge of the FBI office in Minneapolis, said in the release.
According to a federal affidavit obtained by The Associated Press on Friday, FBI agents from the domestic terrorism squad searched the property at the mobile home park in Montevideo and discovered the Molotov cocktails, suspected pipe bombs and firearms. The affidavit said Buford was there at the time of the search, and one firearm recovered from Buford’s residence was a Romanian AKM assault rifle.
In an interview with authorities, Rogers admitted firing the weapon on two separate occasions at a gun range in Granite Falls, the affidavit said. Rogers has a past conviction for felony burglary and is not allowed to have a firearm.
Rogers is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court this week.
Rogers’ 2011 felony burglary conviction stems from an incident in Lac qui Parle County. He also has a 2009 misdemeanor conviction for dangerous handling of a weapon in Hennepin County, as well as other criminal violations, according to online court records.
Chicago IL April 23 2013 An alleged attempt by an Aurora, Illinois man to travel to Syria in order to join a jihadist militant group operating inside Syria led to his arrest Friday evening. The arrest was announced today by Cory B. Nelson, Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Field Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), and Gary S. Shapiro, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.
Abdella Ahmad Tounisi, 18, a U.S. citizen, was taken into custody without incident late yesterday at O’Hare International Airport by members of the Chicago FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force as he attempted to board a flight destined for Istanbul, Turkey. He was charged in a criminal complaint filed today in U.S. District Court with one count of attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization, a felony offense. Tounisi appeared earlier today before U.S. Magistrate Judge Daniel G. Martin and was ordered held until his next court appearance, which is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on April 23, 2013.
In making today’s announcement, Mr. Nelson stated that the investigation that culminated in Tounisi’s arrest began in 2012 and that there is no connection between this case and the events that occurred over the last several days in Boston.
The complaint states that Tounisi is a close friend of Adel Daoud, an individual arrested in September 2012 for attempting to detonate a bomb outside a Chicago bar and that Tounisi and Daoud appeared to share an interest in violent jihad. While Tounisi allegedly discussed attack techniques and targets prior to Daoud’s arrest, Tounisi did not participate in Daoud’s attempted attack.
According to the complaint, from January to April 2013, Tounisi conducted online research related to overseas travel and violent jihad, focusing specifically on Syria and the Jabhat al Nusrah terrorist group. Jabhat al Nusrah is listed by the U.S. Department of State as an alias for al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), a designated foreign terrorist organization. The complaint alleges that Tounisi searched online for information about travel from Chicago to Syria, obtained a new passport, and, beginning in late March 2013, made online contact with an individual Tounisi believed to be a recruiter for Jabhat al Nusrah. That individual was in fact an FBI employee acting in an online undercover capacity. The complaint further alleges that Tounisi and the undercover employee exchanged a series of e-mails in which Tounisi shared his plan to get to Syria by way of Turkey, as well as his willingness to die for the cause. During the exchanges, Tounisi also sought advice from the undercover employee on travel from Istanbul to the Turkish city of Gaziantep, which lies near the border of Turkey and Syria.
The complaint states that on April 10, Tounisi purchased an airline ticket for a flight from Chicago to Istanbul and on April 18, the undercover employee provided Tounisi with a bus ticket for travel from Istanbul to Gaziantep. Tounisi arrived at O’Hare International Airport’s international terminal Friday evening, and after passing through airport security, he was arrested.
If convicted of the charge filed against him, Tounisi faces a maximum penalty of 15 years in federal prison.
The JTTF is composed of special agents of the FBI, officers of the Chicago Police Department, and representatives from an additional 20 federal, state, and local law enforcement agencies. The Justice Department’s National Security Division assisted in the investigation.
Mr. Nelson expressed his gratitude to U.S. Customs and Border Protection for the significant support provided by its officers during the arrest of Tounisi.
The public is reminded that a complaint is not evidence of guilt and that all defendants in a criminal case are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
MOBILE, Alabama April 21 2013— A man who the FBI said wanted to wage violent jihad in Africa pleaded guilty on Friday to a charge of conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists.
Randy Lamar Wilson, 26, pleaded guilty in federal court. Under a plea agreement with prosecutors, he could face 15 years in federal prison, contingent on the information he provides about co-conspirators. U.S. District Judge Kristi DuBose set an Oct. 18 sentencing date for Wilson.
Wilson was arrested in December at the Atlanta airport while boarding a flight with his family to Mauritania.
The same day, agents arrested 25-year-old Mohammad Abdul Rahman Abukhdair, Wilson’s former business partner. Charges against Abukhdair are still pending and his trial is set for August.
Federal prosecutors portrayed Wilson as an Islamic radical who wanted to reunite with Omar Hammami, an American who also grew up in Alabama and became one of the most well-known jihadists in Somalia.
Wilson told DuBose on Friday that he believed the government could prove that he intended to participate in violent jihad overseas.
Federal prosecutors said Wilson intended to “murder, maim and kidnap” people overseas.
U.S. Attorney Christopher Bodnar said the government could prove that Wilson and Abukhdair made extensive plans to travel to a country where they could participate in a religious war. Bodnar said the two men wanted to disguise their reason for traveling as tourism or academic study. “He knew at all times that he was participating in an illegal conspiracy,” Bodnar said.
Domingo Soto, Wilson’s attorney, said Wilson would provide information about Abukhdair and others as part of the plea agreement.
“He wanted to plead guilty,” Soto said. “As far as I’m concerned, this still has to do with free-speech issue,” said Soto, who has said that Wilson’s statements could have been misconstrued or taken out of context by government agents.
“He is pretty fatalistic about this,” Soto said. He said Wilson believed a jury pool would be tainted by the emotional issues surrounding terrorism.
Wilson was stoic on Friday, wearing a beige jail jumpsuit with arm and leg chains and guarded by eight U.S. marshals. He answered only yes and no to DuBose’s questions and said he understood the details of the plea agreement and the consequences of his plea.
Driver deliberately crashed car with gas container into NW D.C. building, police say www.privateofficer.com
Washington DC June 10 2012 A car carrying at least one container of gasoline crashed into the lobby of a prominent Washington office building Friday evening as diners ate at a restaurant one floor above, authorities said.
D.C. Police Chief Cathy L. Lanier said the crash was deliberate. Law enforcement sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said that one or more containers of gasoline were in the vehicle and that gasoline had been poured on or in it.
The vehicle smashed through plate glass and into the lobby of the building on the southwest corner of Connecticut Avenue and L Street NW about 7:30 p.m.
With its similarities to car bombings, the crash provoked a vigorous response. The FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force was at the scene, but there was no indication late Friday of a terrorist link. The motive was unclear.
The driver was taken to a hospital for evaluation, D.C. police said. There was no report of any other injuries.
“I felt a crash,” said a woman who was in the bar area of Morton’s the Steakhouse. “I kind of heard it.” She said someone in their group asked facetiously: “Is the building collapsing? Should we try to get out?”
The woman, Maureen Mathis, a law student working in D.C. for the summer, said a red vehicle, apparently a Jeep, rested in the lobby. Mathis said the man who appeared to be the driver struggled with building security officers, then with police. Police said the car had been stolen.
The corner is busy and many people were nearby, Mathis said. She added that she saw what appeared to be a gasoline container being taken out of the vehicle.
The entrance to the Farragut North Metro station at that corner was closed after the incident while police investigated. “Everyone said it was a miracle that no one was hurt,” Mathis said.
Fort Hood TX July 29 2011 A U.S. serviceman is in custody after he allegedly admitted he was planning an attack on his fellow servicemen at the U.S. Army base at Fort Hood, Texas, the same base where 13 people were killed in a 2009 terror attack.
U.S. officials told ABC News an AWOL soldier, identified by the FBI as a Private First Class Naser Jason Abdo, was arrested Wednesday after making a purchase at Guns Galore in Killeen, Texas, the same ammunition store where Maj. Nidal Hasan purchased the weapons he allegedly used to gun down 13 people and wound 32 others on Nov. 5, 2009. According to one senior official, Abdo has also mentioned the name of high profile al Qaeda cleric Anwar al-Awlaki — the same man investigators said inspired the previous Fort Hood attack along with other potentially deadly terror plots in the U.S. — though no direct link between Abdo and Awlaki has been found.
Abdo, 21, allegedly told law enforcement he wanted to “get even” and was targeting Ft. Hood because of the previous attack there, according to law enforcement documents obtained by ABC News. The documents say he did not plan to attack the base itself, but instead planned to plant two bombs at a nearby restaurant popular with Ft. Hood personnel.
He hoped to detonate both at the target location before using a pistol to shoot survivors, according to the documents. Abdo had gone AWOL over the July 4 weekend from Fort Campbell’s 101st Airborne Division in Kentucky over 800 miles away.
Abdo, 21, was arrested Wednesday and agents found firearms and “items that could be identified as bomb-making components, including gunpowder,” in his motel room, according to FBI spokesman Erik Vasys.
When he was arrested, Abdo was in possession of large quantities of ammunition, weapons and what appeared to be the makings of a bomb, according to early accounts from law enforcement. He had also apparently purchased an Army uniform with Fort Hood patches from a local surplus store.
Abdo, reportedly of Palestinian descent, was raised by his Muslim father and non-denominational Christian mother in Texas. In 2010 he told ABC News he was Muslim and should not have to participate in what he called an “unjust war” in the Middle East.
“Any Muslim who knows his religion or maybe takes into account what his religion says can find out very clearly why he should not participate in the U.S. military,” Abdo said then.
Abdo said in 2010 he originally joined the military because he believed he would be fighting a “just” war that would help protect the freedoms of Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan. Months later, however, Abdo said he realized he “wasn’t supposed to be here.”
Abdo filed for conscientious objector status, which was approved by the Secretary of the Army, but his discharge was put on hold after Abdo was charged with having child pornography on his computer, an Army spokesperson told ABC News. Law enforcement sources said investigators began looking at Abdo’s computer files due to “radical statements” he made after filing for discharge and only discovered the pornography then.
On a Facebook page apparently maintained by Abdo, he writes in the most recent post on June 22 that it was two days after the Secretary approved his discharge that he was charged with having 34 images of child pornography on the computer.
“As god says, ‘The end is ultimately with the believers’ Quran,” the post says.
Local police were initially alerted to Abdo by the owners of Guns Galore who reported him as “suspicious.”
A clerk at the store, who identified himself to ABC News as Mr. Ebert, said Abdo came to the store Wednesday afternoon looking for gunpowder and “reloading options.”
Ebert called the police after he said he felt “concerned with the quantity of his request and his general demeanor.”
“There was clearly something wrong with him,” Ebert said.
According to the documents, military officials believe the incident “was likely isolated to the Fort Hood area and the suspect in custody, and that arrest of the suspect has mitigated any further threats related to this incident.”
Abdo’s former lawyer, James M. Branum, declined to comment for this report except to say he hasn’t spoken with his client “in a long time.” Abdo now faces federal charges in connection with the alleged plot.
PRESS RELASE-FBI —Khalid Ali-M Aldawsari, 20, a citizen of Saudi Arabia and resident of Lubbock, Texas, was arrested late yesterday by FBI agents in Texas on a federal charge of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction in connection with his alleged purchase of chemicals and equipment necessary to make an improvised explosive device (IED) and his research of potential U.S. targets.
The arrest and the criminal complaint, which was unsealed in the Northern District of Texas, were announced by David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; James T. Jacks, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas; and Robert E. Casey Jr., Special Agent in Charge of the FBI Dallas Field Division.
Aldawsari is expected to make his initial appearance in federal court in Lubbock at 9:00 a.m. on Friday morning. Aldawsari, who was lawfully admitted into the United States in 2008 on a student visa and is enrolled at South Plains College near Lubbock, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a $250,000 fine if convicted of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.
According to the affidavit filed in support of the complaint, Aldawsari has been researching online how to construct an IED using several chemicals as ingredients. He has also acquired or taken a substantial step toward acquiring most of the ingredients and equipment necessary to construct an IED and he has conducted online research of several potential U.S. targets, the affidavit alleges. In addition, he has allegedly described his desire for violent jihad and martyrdom in blog postings and a personal journal.
“As alleged in the complaint, Aldawsari purchased ingredients to construct an explosive device and was actively researching potential targets in the United States. Thanks to the efforts of many agents, analysts, and prosecutors, this plot was thwarted before it could advance further,” said Assistant Attorney General Kris. “This case serves as another reminder of the need for continued vigilance both at home and abroad.”
“Yesterday’s arrest demonstrates the need for and the importance of vigilance and the willingness of private individuals and companies to ask questions and contact the authorities when confronted with suspicious activities. Based upon reports from the public, Aldawsari’s plot was uncovered and thwarted. We’re confident we have neutralized the alleged threat posed by this defendant. Those reports resulted in the initiation of a complex and far-reaching investigation requiring almost around the clock work by hundreds of dedicated FBI agents, analysts, prosecutors, and others. Their effort is another example of the work being done to protect our country and its citizens. These individuals are deserving of our respect and gratitude,” said U.S. Attorney Jacks.
“This arrest and criminal charge is a result of the success of the FBI’s counterterrorism strategy, which is to detect, penetrate, and disrupt terrorist plots in the United States and against U.S. interests abroad. In this case, FBI agents and other FBI experts worked tirelessly to neutralize the imminent terrorist threat described in the criminal complaint. The public can be justifiably proud of the national security expertise shown by the FBI in this investigation,” said Special Agent in Charge Casey.
Purchases of Chemical Ingredients and Other Equipment
The affidavit alleges that on Feb. 1, 2011, a chemical supplier reported to the FBI a suspicious attempted purchase of concentrated phenol by a man identifying himself as Khalid Aldawsari. According to the affidavit, phenol is a toxic chemical with legitimate uses, but can also be used to make the explosive trinitrophenol, also known as T.N.P., or picric acid. The affidavit alleges that other ingredients typically used with phenol to make picric acid, or T.N.P., are concentrated sulfuric and nitric acids.
Aldawsari allegedly attempted to have the phenol order shipped to a freight company so it could be held for him there, but the freight company returned the order to the supplier and called the police. Later, Aldawsari falsely told the supplier he was associated with a university and wanted the phenol for “off-campus, personal research.” Frustrated by questions being asked over his phenol order, Aldawsari cancelled his order and later e-mailed himself instructions for producing phenol. The affidavit alleges that in December 2010, he successfully purchased concentrated nitric and sulfuric acids.
According to the affidavit, legally authorized electronic surveillance revealed that Aldawsari used various e-mail accounts in researching explosives and targets, and often sent e-mails to himself as part of this process. On Feb. 11, 2011, for instance, he allegedly e-mailed himself a recipe for picric acid, which the e-mail describes as a “military explosive.” He also allegedly sent himself an e-mail on Oct. 19, 2010 that contained information on the material required for Nitro Urea, how to prepare it, and the advantages of using it.
The affidavit alleges that Aldawsari also e-mailed himself instructions on how to convert a cellular phone into a remote detonator and how to prepare a booby-trapped vehicle using items available in every home. One e-mail allegedly contained a message stating that “one operation in the land of the infidels is equal to ten operations against occupying forces in the land of the Muslims.” During December 2010 and January 2011, Aldawsari allegedly purchased many other items, including a gas mask, a Hazmat suit, a soldering iron kit, glass beakers and flasks, wiring, a stun gun, clocks, and a battery tester.
Searches of Aldawsari’s Residence
Two legally authorized searches of Aldawsari’s apartment conducted by the FBI in February 2011 indicated that the concentrated sulfuric and nitric acids; the beakers and flasks; wiring; Hazmat suit; and clocks were present in Aldawsari’s residence.
FBI agents also found a notebook at Aldawsari’s residence that appeared to be a diary or journal. According to the affidavit, excerpts from the journal indicate that Aldawsari had been planning to commit a terrorist attack in the United States for years. One entry describes how Aldawsari sought and obtained a particular scholarship because it allowed him to come directly to the United State and helped him financially, which he said “will help tremendously in providing me with the support I need for Jihad.” The entry continues: “And now, after mastering the English language, learning how to build explosives and continuous planning to target the infidel Americans, it is time for Jihad.”
In another entry, Aldawsari allegedly wrote that he was near to reaching his goal and near to getting weapons to use against infidels and their helpers. He also listed a “synopsis of important steps” that included obtaining a forged U.S. birth certificate; renting a car; using different driver’s licenses for each car rented; putting bombs in cars and taking them to different places during rush hour; and leaving the city for a safe place.
Research on Potential Targets
According to the affidavit, Aldawsari conducted research on various targets and e-mailed himself information on these locations and people. One of the documents he sent himself, with the subject line listed as “Targets,” allegedly contained the names and home addresses of three American citizens who had previously served in the U.S. military and had been stationed for a time at Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq.
In another e-mail titled “NICE TARGETS 01,” Aldawsari allegedly sent himself the names of 12 reservoir dams in Colorado and California. In another e-mail to himself, titled “NICE TARGETS,” he listed two categories of targets: hydroelectric dams and nuclear power plants. On Feb. 6, 2011, the affidavit alleges, Aldawsari sent himself an e-mail titled “Tyrant’s House,” in which he listed the Dallas address for former President George W. Bush. The affidavit also alleges that Aldawsari conducted research that could indicate his consideration of the use of infant dolls to conceal explosives and possible targeting of a nightclub with an explosive concealed in a backpack.
The affidavit also alleges that Aldawsari created a blog in which he posted extremist messages. In one posting, he expressed dissatisfaction with current conditions of Muslims and vowed jihad and martyrdom. “You who created mankind….grant me martyrdom for Your sake and make jihad easy for me only in Your path,” he wrote.
This case was investigated by the FBI’s Dallas Joint Terrorism Task Force, with assistance from the Lubbock Police Department. The prosecution is being handled by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Richard Baker and Denise Williams from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas, and Trial Attorney David Cora from the Counterterrorism Section of the Justice Department’s National Security Division.
The charges contained in the criminal complaint are merely allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
PORTLAND OR NOV 28 2010
A Somali-born teenager plotted “a spectacular show” of terrorism for months, saying he didn’t mind that children would die if he bombed a crowded Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, according to a law-enforcement official and court documents.
He never got the chance. Mohamed Osman Mohamud, 19, was arrested Friday in downtown Portland after using a cell phone to try to detonate what he thought were explosives in a van, prosecutors said. It turned out to be a dummy bomb put together by FBI agents. Authorities said Mohamud was acting alone.
The alleged plot followed a string of terrorist attack planning by U.S. citizens or residents, including a Times Square plot in which a Pakistan-born man pleaded guilty earlier this year to trying to set off a car bomb at a bustling street corner. Last month, another Pakistan-born Virginia resident was accused in a bomb plot to kill commuters.
In the Portland plot, Mohamud was not being directed by any foreign terrorist organization, according to a law-enforcement official who wasn’t authorized to discuss the case publicly and spoke on a condition of anonymity.
The official said Mohamud was very committed to the plot and planned the details alone, including where to park the van to hurt the most people.
“I want whoever is attending that event to leave, to leave dead or injured.” Mohamud said, according to the affidavit.
“It’s in Oregon, and Oregon, like you know, nobody ever thinks about it,” the suspect told an agent in one discussion.
Thousands of people had gathered Friday on a cold, clear night for the annual event at Pioneer Courthouse Square, a plaza often referred to as “Portland’s living room” because of its popularity.
Just 10 minutes before Mohamud’s 5:40 p.m. arrest, the lighting ceremony began. Babies sat on shoulders, and children cheered at the first appearance of Santa Claus onstage.
The tree-lighting on the bricks of the plaza went off without a hitch just as the arrest was taking place.
Mohamud, who grew up in Beaverton, was a former student at Oregon State University. He had been enrolled in courses from late 2009 until Oct. 6 before withdrawing, said Oregon State University spokesman Todd Simmons.
The law-enforcement official who spoke to the AP on Saturday said agents began investigating Mohamud after receiving a tip from someone who was concerned about the teenager. The official declined to provide any more detail about the relationship between Mohamud and that source.
The FBI monitored Mohamud’s e-mail and found that he was in contact with people overseas, asking how he could travel to Pakistan and join the fight for jihad, according to an FBI affidavit.
According to the law enforcement official, Mohamud e-mailed a friend living in Pakistan who had been a student in Oregon in 2007-2008 and been in Yemen as well.
For reasons that have not been explained, Mohamud tried to board a flight to Kodiak, Alaska, from Portland on June 14, wasn’t allowed to board and was interviewed by the FBI, the affidavit states. Mohamud told the FBI he had previously hoped to travel to Yemen, that he knew someone there, but had never obtained a ticket a visa.
On June 23, an undercover agent contacted Mohamud by e-mail, pretending to be affiliated with the “unindicted associate” Mohamud had sent e-mails to.
The FBI’s affidavit says the friend in Pakistan referred him to another associate, but gave him an invalid e-mail address that Mohamud tried repeatedly to use unsuccessfully. The official said FBI agents saw that as an opportunity and e-mailed Mohamud in response, claiming to be associates of his friend, the former student.
The affidavit said Mohamud was warned several times about the seriousness of his plan, that women and children could be killed, and that he could back out. But he told agents: “Since I was 15 I thought about all this” and “It’s gonna be a fireworks show … a spectacular show.”
Mohamud, a naturalized U.S. citizen living in Corvallis, was charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. A court appearance was set for Monday.
Authorities allowed the plot to proceed in order to build up enough evidence to charge the suspect with attempt. Mohamud sent bomb components to undercover FBI agents who he believed were assembling the explosive device, but the agents supplied the fake bomb that Mohamud tried to detonate twice via his phone, authorities said.
The FBI affidavit says the undercover agent first met Mohamud in person on July 30 and asked what he would do for the cause of jihad. The agent suggested that Mohamud might want to spread Islam to others, continue his studies to help the cause overseas, raise money, and become a martyr or put together an explosion but didn’t know how and needed training, the affidavit said.
The undercover agent said he could introduce him to an explosive expert and asked Mohamud to research potential targets.
At a second meeting on Aug. 19 at a Portland hotel, the agent brought a second undercover agent; Mohamud allegedly told them had selected the tree lighting at Portland’s Pioneer Square for the bombing.
Friday, an agent and Mohamud drove to downtown Portland in a white van that carried six 55-gallon drums with detonation cords and plastic caps, but all of them were inert, the complaint states.
They left the van near the downtown ceremony site and went to a train station where Mohamud was given a cell phone that he thought would blow up the vehicle, according to the complaint. There was no detonation when he dialed, and when he tried again federal agents and police made their move.
Tens of thousands of Somalis have resettled in the United States since their country plunged into lawlessness in 1991, and the U.S. has boosted aid to the country.
In August, the U.S. Justice Department unsealed an indictment naming 14 people accused of being a deadly pipeline routing money and fighters from the U.S. to al-Shabab, an al-Qaida affiliated group in Mohamud’s native Somalia.
Officials have been working with Muslim community leaders across the United States, particularly in Somali diasporas in Minnesota, trying to combat the radicalization.
On Saturday, Omar Jamal, first secretary to the Somali mission to the United Nation and an advocate for Somalis in Minnesota, said the Mohamud has a stepmother in Minneapolis. He condemned the plot and urged Somalis to cooperate with police and the FBI.
Jamal said he had spoken to two Somalis who knew Mohamud, and he was described as religious, quiet and innocent.
Jamal said Mohamud is from southern Somalia.
“Everybody’s afraid, really really afraid,” Jamal said of members of Oregon’s Somali communities and elsewhere. “They’re afraid of, first of all, the label. The allegation is very serious …
“But this is something that we are closely watching, and we advised (Somalis) not to be so much afraid of anything, as long as they’re on the right side of the law.”
Washington DC Oct 28 2010 — A Virginia man was arrested Wednesday for allegedly attempting to help others he thought were members of al Qaeda in planning multiple bombings at Metrorail stations in the Washington area, the Department of Justice said.
Farooque Ahmed, 34, appeared briefly Wednesday before federal Magistrate John Anderson at the U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Virginia. The court will appoint an attorney for Ahmed, and he was ordered to remain in custody until a detention hearing Friday, said Peter Carr, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office in Alexandria.
A federal grand jury returned a three-count indictment against Ahmed on Tuesday, the Justice Department said in a statement.
“In announcing this arrest, officials emphasized that at no time was the public in danger during this investigation and that the FBI was aware of Ahmed’s activities from before the alleged attempt began and closely monitored his activities until his arrest,” the statement said. “The public should be assured that there was no threat against Metrorail or the general public in the Washington, D.C., area.”
Ahmed is 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 help carry out multiple bombings to cause mass casualties” at the Washington-area stations, authorities said. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison.
An administration official said Wednesday that Ahmed has no known connections to any overseas terrorist groups or individuals. The investigation is continuing, the official said on condition of not being identified.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters the arrest is “another important example” of work by the FBI, all levels of law enforcement and the national security team “to keep our country safe.”
“At no point was the public in any danger,” Gibbs said.
In a statement, the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority said, “This arrest reinforces the need for continued vigilance by Metro and its customers.”
Carr said Ahmed was dressed in casual clothes and had a long beard at the court appearance, where he appeared reserved and “addressed the judge respectfully.”
Ahmed was arrested at 9:40 a.m. Wednesday at a hotel in Herndon, Virginia, according to Carr.
Ahmed attempted to assist others “whom he believed to be members of al Qaeda” from April through Monday in planning multiple bombings at the stations, according to the indictment.
Federal authorities declined to provide further information on the identities of the purported al Qaeda members who allegedly were in contact with Ahmed.
On April 18, Ahmed allegedly drove to a hotel in Dulles, Virginia, and met with a courier who he thought was affiliated with a terrorist organization, the indictment said. That person “provided Ahmed with a document that provided potential locations at which future meetings could be arranged,” the Justice Department said, citing the indictment.
On May 15, Ahmed allegedly agreed to “watch and photograph” a Washington hotel as well as a Metrorail station in Arlington, Virginia, “to obtain information about their security and busiest periods,” the department said.
Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen who was born in Pakistan, “allegedly participated in surveillance and recorded video images of Metrorail stations in Arlington, Virginia, on four occasions,” the statement said.
On or about July 19, in a Sterling, Virginia, hotel room, Ahmed allegedly gave a memory stick containing video images of the station to “an individual whom Ahmed believed to be affiliated with al Qaeda,” according to the indictment. That same day, he allegedly agreed to assess the security of two other Metrorail stations in Arlington as possible locations of terrorist attacks, the Justice Department statement said.
And in a Herndon hotel room on September 28, Ahmed allegedly handed over a USB drive containing images of two Arlington Metrorail stations to a person he thought was affiliated with al Qaeda, authorities said. He also allegedly provided diagrams he drew of three Arlington Metrorail stations and provided suggestions as to where explosives should be placed on trains at the stations “to kill the most people” in simultaneous attacks planned for 2011, the Justice Department said.
“Today’s case underscores the need for continued vigilance against terrorist threats and demonstrates how the government can neutralize such threats before they come to fruition,” said David Kris, assistant attorney general for national security. “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.”