- The Washington Times - Monday, April 11, 2011

A Northern Virginia man was sentenced Monday to 23 years in prison after pleading guilty to assisting people he thought were al Qaeda terrorists in planning bombings at Metrorail stations.

Farooque Ahmed, 35, of Ashburn, a naturalized U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, pleaded guilty to providing material support to a designated terrorist organization and collecting information to assist in planning a terrorist attack on a transit facility, U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride said.

In a plea agreement in federal court in Alexandria, Mr. MacBride said the defense and government jointly recommended a sentence of 23 years in prison. After accepting the guilty plea, U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee sentenced Ahmed to the agreed-upon prison term and imposed a 50-year term of supervised release.

Mr. Ahmed today admitted he was determined to kill as many people as possible through multiple bombings at the heart of our nations capital,” MacBride said. “Its chilling that a man from Ashburn could admit to planning these acts of terrorism.”

James W. McJunkin, assistant director in charge of the FBIs Washington Field Office, said Ahmed “followed a twisted, radical ideology outside that of the mainstream Muslim community which led him to break the law.”

According to court records, from April through October of last year, Ahmed attempted to assist others in planning bombings that would cause mass casualties at Metrorail stations.

The records show that on April 18, 2010, he drove to a hotel near Washington Dulles International Airportand met with a courier he believed to be affiliated with al Qaeda. The man provided him with a document that listed potential locations for future meetings.

Ahmed, according to the records, participated in surveillance and recorded video images of Metrorail stations in Arlington and later, in a hotel room in Sterling, handed a memory stick containing video images of the stations to a person he thought was affiliated with al Qaeda.

In September, Ahmed handed a USB drive containing images of two stations in Arlington to another person he thought was affiliated with al Qaeda, and he later provided suggestions as to where explosives should be placed on trains to kill the most people.