FBI: Man wanted to attack White House with antitank rocket
Published 8:38 am Friday, January 18, 2019
ATLANTA — A Georgia man who traded his car for an antitank rocket, guns and explosives in a plot to storm the White House is under arrest, authorities said.
Hasher Jallal Taheb, 21, of Cumming, was arrested in an FBI sting operation Wednesday and is charged with attempting to damage or destroy a building owned by the United States using fire or an explosive, U.S. Attorney Byung J. “BJay” Pak said.
It wasn’t immediately clear whether Taheb had an attorney who could comment on the allegations.
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The FBI set up the sting after a local law enforcement agency said in March that it got a tip from someone who said Taheb had become radicalized, changed his name and planned to travel abroad, according to an FBI agent’s affidavit filed in court. A confidenctial FBI source and an undercover agent both made contact with Taheb after he advertised his vehicle for sale in August.
Special Agent Chris Hacker, who oversees the FBI office in Atlanta, said they believe Taheb was acting on his own.
The affidavit says Taheb told the FBI source in October that he planned to travel abroad for “hijra,” which the agent wrote refers to traveling to territory controlled by the Islamic State. Because he didn’t have a passport, he couldn’t travel abroad and told the FBI source that he wanted to carry out an attack in the U.S. against the White House and the Statue of Liberty.
He later mentioned other sites he’d also like to target, including the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and a specific synagogue, the affidavit says.
He met with the undercover agent and the FBI source multiple times last month and was also in frequent contact using an encrypted messaging application, the affidavit says.
During one meeting with the agent and the source, Taheb “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 says. Taheb “explained that jihad was an obligation, that he wanted to do as much damage as possible, and that he expected to be a ‘martyr,’ meaning he expected to die during the attack.”