United States v. Ahmed; United States v. Shehadeh

1. United States v. Ahmed (E.D. Va. Oct. 27, 2010) (indictment alleging attempted material support in relation to plot to bomb DC-area Metrorail stations).

From the press release (indictment attached):

WASHINGTON – Farooque Ahmed, 34, of Ashburn, Va., was arrested today for attempting to assist others whom he believed to be members of al-Qaeda in planning multiple bombings at Metrorail stations in the Washington, D.C., area.

David Kris, Assistant Attorney General for National Security; Neil H. MacBride, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia; and John G. Perren, Acting Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI Washington Field Office, made the announcement after Ahmed was taken into custody earlier this morning.

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 public should be assured that there was no threat against Metrorail or the general public in the Washington, D.C., area.

Yesterday, a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Va., returned a three-count indictment against Ahmed, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, 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 to cause mass casualties at D.C.-area Metrorail stations. If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison.

Ahmed was arrested by the FBI early this morning and is scheduled to make his first appearance before U.S. Magistrate Judge John F. Anderson at 2:00 P.M. EDT at the federal courthouse in Alexandria.

According to the indictment, from April 2010 through Oct. 25, 2010, Ahmed attempted to assist others whom he believed to be members of al-Qaeda in planning multiple bombings to cause mass casualties at Metrorail stations. On April 18, 2010, 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, 2010, 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.

According to the indictment, Ahmed allegedly participated in surveillance and recorded video images of Metrorail stations in Arlington, Va., on four occasions. On or about July 19, 2010, 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-Qaeda. On that same day, Ahmed allegedly agreed to assess the security of two other Metrorail stations in Arlington as locations of terrorist attacks.

The indictment further alleges that, on or about Sept. 28, 2010, 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-Qaeda.

According to the indictment, on or about Sept. 28, 2010, Ahmed provided to an individual whom he believed to be affiliated with al-Qaeda 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.

2. United States v. Shehadeh (E.D.N.Y. Oct. 25, 2010) (complaint alleging false statements relating to investigation of international terrorism, in connection with plans to travel abroad to fight against U.S. forces)

From the press release (see here for the complaint):

A criminal complaint was unsealed yesterday in the Eastern District of New York charging Abdel Hameed Shehadeh, age 21 and a U.S. citizen and resident of Hawaii, with making false statements in a matter involving international terrorism. Shehadeh was arrested on Friday, October 22, in Honolulu, Hawaii. At his initial appearance yesterday at the United States Courthouse in Honolulu, Shehadeh was ordered detained and consented to being removed to the Eastern District of New York for further proceedings.

According to the complaint, in early 2008, Shehadeh, at the time a resident of Staten Island, New York, devised a plan to travel to Pakistan in order to join the Taliban or a similar fighting group. In furtherance of his plan, on June 13, 2008, Shehadeh flew on a one-way airline ticket from John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens, New York, to Islamabad, Pakistan. Upon landing in Pakistan, Shehadeh was denied entry into the country by Pakistani officials, and he returned to the United States. He was questioned by FBI agents and NYPD detectives on multiple occasions about the purpose of his trip to Pakistan, and he told them that he had traveled to Pakistan in order to visit an Islamic university and to attend a friend’s wedding. The complaint alleges that Shehadeh subsequently admitted to FBI agents in Hawaii that the true purpose of his trip to Pakistan was to join a fighting group such as the Taliban. The complaint also alleges that Shehadeh attempted to recruit another individual to join him for this purpose immediately after the two discussed a sermon by the cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.

According to the complaint, several weeks after Shehadeh was denied entry to Pakistan, he attempted to enlist in the United States Army at the Times Square recruiting station in New York City. Shehadeh’s application was denied when it was discovered that he had concealed his prior trip to Pakistan. Although Shehadeh claimed that he attempted to enlist for career opportunities and benefits, the complaint alleges that his true motive was to deploy to Iraq, where he intended to desert and fight against the United States military alongside Iraqi insurgent forces.

In addition, the complaint alleges that Shehadeh created and administered multiple web sites dedicated to spreading violent jihadist ideology. The content of these web sites included, among other things, speeches from known al-Qaeda leaders such as Abu Yahya al-Libi and Ayman al-Zawahiri.

If convicted of making false statements in a matter involving international terrorism, Shehadeh faces a maximum sentence of eight years’ imprisonment.

Ahmed_indictment.pdf

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