A Georgia man was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of planning a jihad attack on the White House, other high-profile national targets and at least one Jewish site in the nation’s capital.
Hasher Jallal Taheb was taken in after a year-long FBI sting operation that grew out of local authorities’ fears that the 21-year-old Muslim living in Cumming had “become radicalized, changed his name and made plans to travel abroad,” according to a criminal complaint filed Wednesday with a federal court in Atlanta.
“The [Joint Terrorism Task Force] initiated the case after receiving a tip from the community,” B. J. Pak, U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Georgia, said in a statement.
The attack was supposed to come Thursday and, the complaint states, Mr. Taheb was arrested immediately after picking up the planned weapons — “three semi-automatic assault rifles, three explosive devices with remote initiation and one AT-4,” an anti-tank rocket launcher.
According to the criminal complaint, Mr. Taheb told an FBI informant in October in a meeting in Cumming, about 40 miles north of Atlanta, that he “wished to conduct an attack in the United States against targets such as the White House and the Statue of Liberty.”
The other targets of the attack plot included the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and a “specific synagogue” that was not specified in the complaint beyond its being in the Washington metropolitan area.
According to the document, Mr. Taheb told the informant that “jihad was the best deed in Islam and the peak of Islam,” and “it was not complicated at all to do jihad today.”
He also purportedly told the informant that he wanted to be a “martyr” and do as much damage as possible.
During weeks of conversing with the informant and an undercover agent, the complaint states, he sought help obtaining weapons and explosives and showed off a hand-drawn diagram of the White House’s West Wing in a composition notebook.
“He said the group would fight to the end and make it a big bang,” the charging document states, adding that he discussed having a “base” for his group, and from there, giving speeches “to motivate people” and show clips of “oppressed Muslims.”
Earlier this month, he completed and uploaded to Google Docs a 40-page manifesto on “defensive jihad” that talked of “creating and leading his group to conduct violent attacks,” according to the complaint.
Over the weekend , according to the affadavit, Mr. Taheb gave the FBI informant a camera, an American flag and an Israeli flag and said the attack would happen Thursday.
He met his two “accomplices” Wednesday in the parking lot of a store in Buford, Georgia, but was arrested after he took possession of two weapons-laden backpacks and put them in a rented car.
Mr. Taleb appeared in court in Atlanta briefly on Wednesday to have the charges explained. His next court appearance has been set for Jan. 24.