NORTH TEXAS (CBSDFW.COM) — A bomb plot in Virginia may have been thwarted by the arrest of a North Texas man. Federal officials say Wichita Falls resident Seth Pendley was plotting to blow up a data center. Now, the 28-year-old has been charged with a malicious attempt to destroy a building with an explosive.
Pendley was arrested on Thursday after allegedly attempting to obtain an explosive device from an undercover FBI employee in Fort Worth.
"We are indebted to the concerned citizen who came forward to report the defendant's alarming online rhetoric. In flagging his posts to the FBI, this individual may have saved the lives of a number of tech workers," said Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah.
According to the complaint, the investigation began after a concerned citizen contacted the FBI on January 8 about alarming statements posted on MyMilitia.com -- a forum dedicated to organizing militia groups.
A user who went by the screenname "Dionysus" stated he was planning to "conduct a little experiment," that he said would "draw a lot of heat" and could be "dangerous." When another user asked what outcome Dionysus desired, he responded, "death."
A confidential source provided the FBI with the user's email address, which officials say was registered to Pendley.
A subsequent search of the defendant's Facebook account showed that he had boasted about being at the U.S. Capitol during the deadly insurrection on January 6.
In private messages, Pendley allegedly told friends that although he did not actually enter the Capitol building, he did reach the "platform," where he swiped a piece of glass from a broken window and interacted with police. He said he brought a sawed-off AR rifle to D.C., but left the weapon in his car during his movement to the Capitol.
In late January, Pendley began using Signal, an encrypted messaging app, to communicate with another confidential source. The source told the FBI that the suspect allegedly said he planned to use C-4 plastic explosives to attack a prominent tech company's data centers in an attempt to "kill of about 70% of the internet."
On March 31, the confidential source introduced Pendley to an individual who he claimed was his explosives supplier. In actuality, the man was an undercover FBI employee.
In recorded conversations, Pendley allegedly told the undercover he planned to attack web servers that he believed provided services to the FBI, CIA, and other federal agencies. He said he hoped to bring down "the oligarchy" currently in power in the United States.
On April 8, Pendley again met with the undercover FBI employee to pick up what he believed to be explosive devices -- they weren't.
After the agent showed Pendley how to arm and detonate the devices, the defendant loaded them into his car. Pendley was arrested shortly after.
If convicted, Pendley faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
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