By Associated Press - Thursday, October 28, 2010

A Pakistani-born suburban father was trying to enlist in a terrorist organization in January and was eager to become a martyr when he unknowingly walked into an FBI sting and began helping plan a purported attack on the Washington Metro system, according to court documents.

What followed was an elaborate ruse in which Farooque Ahmed was given intelligence-gathering duties and coded information in a Koran by two persons posing as al Qaeda operatives as part of the supposed plot to kill commuters on the nation’s second-busiest subway system.

Mr. Ahmed, 34, of Ashburn, Va., was caught on FBI surveillance video discussing his firearm, martial-arts and knife skills and offering to teach those deadly tactics to others, according to an FBI affidavit unsealed Thursday.

The affidavit by FBI agent Charles A. Dayoub describes meetings beginning in mid-April between Mr. Ahmed and the pair he thought were al Qaeda operatives and the actions Mr. Ahmed took to advance the fake plot. The operatives were really working on behalf of the U.S. government, according to a federal law enforcement official who requested anonymity to discuss details of the case.

Mr. Ahmed was arrested Wednesday, just weeks before, the FBI says, he planned to make the annual religious pilgrimage to the Islamic holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. The case represents the latest in a recent string of would-be terrorist attacks that officials say were aided, hatched or carried out by U.S. citizens.

Mr. Dayoub said Mr. Ahmed had an associate who also tried to join a terrorist group and accompanied Mr. Ahmed while he conducted surveillance of subway systems. There was no information Thursday about the associate’s identity, whether the bureau might be looking for the associate or whether the individual was cooperating with authorities. Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd would provide no details on the associate’s identity.

The FBI and White House have said the public was never in danger because FBI agents had Mr. Ahmed under tight surveillance before the sting began and until his arrest.

Mr. Ahmed’s lawyer, federal public defender Kenneth Troccoli, declined to comment on the case Thursday.

A naturalized U.S. citizen, Mr. Ahmed was a contractor with the telecommunications company Ericsson Services Inc. Company spokeswoman Kathy Egan said he never worked on the company’s government contracts, including ones with the Pentagon. Mr. Ahmed never had access to classified information, Ms. Egan said.

Mr. Dayoub’s affidavit disclosed that the FBI learned in January that Mr. Ahmed and an associate were trying to make contact with terrorist groups to help participate in jihad against U.S. forces overseas.

Mr. Dayoub wrote that Mr. Ahmed was lured by an e-mail to the first meeting detailed, on April 18 in the lobby of a hotel near Washington Dulles International Airport. As the FBI secretly videotaped the encounter, Mr. Ahmed accepted a Koran that contained “documents providing code words for locations to be used for future meeting,” the affidavit said.

Mr. Ahmed told a purported al Qaeda operative he had come to the meeting because “he wanted to fight and kill Americans in Afghanistan,” Mr. Dayoub wrote.

Mr. Dayoub also said the FBI had learned that Mr. Ahmed bought, or tried to buy, weapons in May 2008 and February 2009. Authorities thought he used firearms to train for his goal of traveling to Afghanistan to kill Americans.

The agents who searched Mr. Ahmed’s town house Wednesday were looking for computers, associated equipment, software and instruction manuals for the equipment, according to the warrant application which was unsealed with Mr. Dayoub’s affidavit. They also applied to seize Mr. Ahmed’s 2005 Honda Accord and all assets in his bank account.

Mr. Ahmed has been indicted on charges of attempting to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization, collecting information to assist in planning a terrorist attack on a transit facility, and attempting to provide material support to terrorists.

According to the indictment:

Mr. Ahmed took video of four Metro stations — Arlington Cemetery, Courthouse, Pentagon City and Crystal City, which is near the Pentagon — and monitored security at a hotel in Washington. In a series of meetings at hotels in Northern Virginia, Mr. Ahmed provided the videos to someone he thought was part of a terrorist organization and said he wanted to donate $10,000 to help the overseas fight and collect donations in a way “that would not raise red flags.”

In a Sept. 28 meeting in a Herndon hotel, Mr. Ahmed suggested that terror operatives use rolling suitcases instead of backpacks to blow up the Metro. During that same meeting, Mr. Ahmed said he wanted to kill as many military personnel as possible and suggested an additional attack on a Crystal City Metro station.

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