Federal authorities have arrested a man in Georgia who they are accusing of plotting to attack several prominent locations in Washington, D.C., including the White House.
Hasher Jallal Taheb had been under investigation by the FBI as part of a sting operation after local authorities reported concerns about him becoming radicalized last March, according to a criminal complaint filed in the federal court in the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta on Wednesday.
A member of the community had reported to local law enforcement that Taheb had "become radicalized, changed his name and made plans to travel abroad," the complaint states.
Taheb applied for a U.S. passport in July, stating that he had misplaced his previous one, and in August he put his vehicle up for sale, telling an FBI informant who expressed interest in buying it that he was selling the car to fund his travel overseas, according to the complaint.
Taheb told the FBI informant in October during a meeting in Cumming, Georgia, that he "wished to conduct an attack in the United States against targets such as the White House and the Statue of Liberty," the document states. Taheb allegedly told the informant that "jihad was the best deed in Islam and the peak of Islam," adding that "it was not complicated at all to do jihad today," according to the complaint.
In a meeting with the informant and an undercover FBI agent on Dec. 2, Taheb allegedly stated that "they could do more damage" in the U.S. because abroad they would be "one of many." He also allegedly said that he wanted to be a “martyr” and cause as much damage as possible, the complaint states.
On Dec. 7, Taheb allegedly showed the undercover operative a hand-drawn diagram of the White House's West Wing in a composition notebook and asked for help with obtaining weapons and explosives for the attack, the complaint states.
"He said the group would fight to the end and make it a big bang," according to the document.
Two days later, Taheb allegedly asked the undercover agent via text how "grocery shopping" was and offered to go with him to purchase the weapons and explosives, the complaint states.
On Dec. 14, Taheb allegedly "broadened his prospective targets," indicating that he wished to attack the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and a "specific synagogue" in the Washington, D.C. area, which was not named, according to the complaint. He also discussed the need for a "base" where they could regroup and "give a speech to motivate people" and show clips of "oppressed Muslims," the document states.
The next day, he allegedly uploaded a 40-page manifesto he authored to Google Docs, which stated the importance of "defensive jihad" and included justifications for "creating and leading his group to conduct violent attacks," according to the complaint. He also created a group chat with the informant and undercover agent, where he would allegedly discuss his plans to attack in the following weeks.
Taheb allegedly met with the undercover agent on Jan. 9 and provided him with two backpacks, stating that he wanted to obtain the weapons within the next week and travel to Washington, D.C., the complaint states. Taheb allegedly told the undercover agent that the explosives would be inside the backpacks and would be detonated with cell phones.
On Saturday, Taheb allegedly met with the FBI informant, providing him with a camera, an American flag and an Israeli flag and stating that he wanted to conduct the attack on Thursday, according to the sworn affidavit.
Taheb, the informant and the undercover agent met in the parking lot of a store in Buford, Georgia, on Wednesday for the "purpose of exchanging their vehicles for three semi-automatic assault rifles, three explosive devices with remote initiation and one AT-4," a single-shot smoothbore weapon," the document states.
After a second confidential informant explained how to use the weapons, Taheb allegedly gave his car keys to him in exchange for them, according to the complaint.
Taheb was arrested after he allegedly took possession of the two backpacks containing the explosives and the AT-4 and placed them in a rental vehicle, the document states.