Washington Metro Bomb Suspect to Be Held Without Bail, U.S. Judge Rules

A Virginia man charged with participating in what he thought was an al-Qaeda plot to bomb Metrorail subway stations in the Washington area will be held without bail, a U.S. magistrate judge said.

In a hearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge John Anderson in Alexandria, attorneys for Farooque Ahmed didn’t contest his detention. Farooque, with a beard, glasses and wearing a green prisoner’s jumpsuit, didn’t say anything during the proceeding, which lasted about two minutes.

Ahmed, 34, of Ashburn, is accused of gathering information on which stations and times would cause the most destruction. He then passed the information to people he believed to be members of al-Qaeda, according to the U.S. Justice Department.

“It is appropriate for you to remain in custody,” Anderson told Ahmed. Ahmed is allowed to reconsider and challenge his detention, Anderson said.

Ahmed, a U.S. citizen born in Pakistan, was caught in an undercover operation, according to a federal official who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing. He was taken into custody Oct. 27 after a grand jury returned a three-count indictment against him.

Material Support

Ahmed faces as long as 50 years in prison for attempting to provide material support to a terrorist group and attempting to help carry out attacks, the U.S. said.

Anderson didn’t schedule any further proceedings.

From April to Oct. 25, Ahmed met in northern Virginia hotel rooms with people he believed represented al-Qaeda, prosecutors claim. At one meeting he agreed to watch a Washington hotel and an Arlington, Virginia, Metro station to study the security and learn of the busiest periods, according to the government.

At subsequent meetings, Ahmed provided a computer memory stick and a USB drive including images of the Courthouse, Pentagon City, and Arlington Cemetery Metrorail stations in Virginia.

He obtained the recording with a mobile phone camera, holding up the phone as though he were talking and not recording.

In September, he provided diagrams he had drawn of the three Metrorail stations and provided suggestions as to where explosives should be placed on trains to kill the most people in a simultaneous attack planned for 2011, prosecutors said.

Rolling Suitcase

He also suggested using rolling suitcases rather than backpacks for the attacks to kill as many military personal as possible, according to court papers.

In January, federal agents learned that Ahmed wanted to contact a terrorist organization and fight U.S. forces in Afghanistan or Pakistan, telling others he wanted be a martyr, according to legal papers. U.S. investigators said they were monitoring Ahmed from the start of the alleged plot.

Ahmed doesn’t appear to have been part of a terrorist cell, according to a person familiar with the matter, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the investigation is continuing.

The subway system covers 106 miles of tracks, providing rail transportation through Washington, Virginia and Maryland.

The case is U.S. v. Ahmed, 10-cr-00413, U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Virginia (Alexandria).

To contact the reporter on this story: William McQuillen in Alexandria, Virginia, at 1849 or bmcquillen@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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