Man arrested for alleged White House rocket attack plot
Hasher Jallal Taheb, 21, of Cumming in Georgia, was arrested on Wednesday after trading his car for guns and explosives, officials said.
He is charged with attempting to damage or destroy a building owned by the US using fire or an explosive.
According to an affidavit filed by an FBI agent, Taheb had planned to approach the White House from a back road, use an anti-tank weapon to blow open a door and then kill as many people and do as much damage as possible.
Taheb had never shot a gun, he told the agent, but he was sure he could learn and he had also watched videos of exploding grenades.
According to the affidavit, Taheb had initially wanted to travel to Islamic State territory but that plan was stymied by the fact that he did not have a passport.
Instead he started to plan attacks closer to home, targeting significant sites including the White House, the FBI alleges.
During a meeting with the undercover agent and an FBI source, he “advised that if they were to go to another country, they would be one of many, but if they stayed in the United States, they could do more damage,” the affidavit said.
He wanted to be a “martyr”, meaning he expected to die during the attack, and he planned to narrate his own video to motivate people with pictures of oppressed Muslims and US and Israeli flags burning in the background.
At one meeting, he showed the undercover agent a hand-drawn diagram of the West Wing’s ground floor and a plan for the attack. The two talked about selling or exchanging their cars to pay for the weapons and explosives needed.
But it had been months since the FBI had been alerted to suspicions that Taheb had been radicalised – suspicions passed to police by a member of the public.
And on Wednesday, after a year-long operation, he was arrested in the Georgian city of Buford as he met a number of undercover FBI agents who pretended to go along with the exchange of cars for semi-automatic rifles, three explosive devices with remote detonators and an anti-tank rocket, the affidavit said.
The weapons had been made safe before the “exchange”.
Taheb was arrested as he prepared to drive away in a rental vehicle with the weapons and explosives inside.
He is currently in police custody in Georgia and was believed to be acting alone.
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