34-year-old Farooque Ahmed, a naturalised US-national born in Pakistan, was arrested late yesterday and made his first court appearance in Alexandria.He had been allegedly casing and photographing subway stations since April to plan simultaneous bomb attacks, they said.
"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.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said at no point was the public in any danger and the President was aware this prior to the arrest.
"It's chilling that a man from Ashburn is accused of casing rail stations with the goal of killing as many Metro riders as possible through simultaneous bomb attacks," said US Attorney Neil H MacBride.
"Today's arrest highlights the terrorism threat that exists in Northern Virginia and our ability to find those seeking to harm US citizens and neutralise them before they can act. We are grateful for the outstanding work of the FBI in detecting and disrupting this plot," he said.
On Tuesday a federal grand jury in Alexandria, Virginia, returned a three-count indictment against Ahmed, charging him with attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organisation, 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 Washington DC - area Metrorail stations.
If convicted, he faces a maximum penalty of 50 years in prison.
According to the indictment, from April 2010 through October 25, 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.