WASHINGTON (CBS/AP) Federal authorities indicted and arrested Virginia man Farooque Ahmed during an FBI sting operation on charges that he planned to bomb Metrorail stations in the Washington, D.C. area, though authorities say there was no imminent danger to the public.
Ahmed, a naturalized citizen originally from Pakistan, was arrested Wednesday on charges of 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 follow through with multiple bombings to cause mass causalities in and around the nation's capital.
A federal law enforcement source told CBS News that Ahmed, 34, believed he was talking to members of al-Qaida from April 2010 to Oct. 25, 2010, but that he had no contact with actual members of al-Qaida or its affiliates.
According to the indictment Ahmed did surveillance and recorded video images of DC Metro stations, focusing on the station at Arlington National Cemetery. He also made videos he handed off to people he thought were connected to al-Qaida, and he suggested using rolling suitcases of explosives and proposed where those explosives should be placed, states the indictment.
Following his arrest, authorities stressed that the public was never in danger because federal agents were aware of Ahmed's activities before the alleged planning occurred and monitored him throughout.
"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.
Ahmed is scheduled to make his first appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge John F. Anderson Wednesday afternoon at the federal courthouse in Alexandria.
If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison.