Accused DC Bomb Plotter Farooque Ahmed’s Goal Was ‘Killing as Many Metro Riders as Possible’

By Kerry Wills, James Gordon Meek, and Helen Kennedy for The NY Daily News

A former Staten Island man was busted in Washington on Wednesday for helping what he thought were Al Qaeda terrorists plotting to bomb the capital’s subways.

It was really the FBI stringing him along, the feds say.

Farooque Ahmed, 34, a computer engineer who lives with his wife and baby in suburban Virginia, was accused of making sketches and surveillance videos of busy subway stops near the Pentagon and tourist-packed Arlington Cemetery.

The stations Ahmed helped case are popular with Defense Department workers. He thought the stations would be blown up sometime next year, the indictment says.

His goal was “killing as many Metro riders as possible through simultaneous bomb attacks,” U.S. Attorney Neil MacBride said. “It’s chilling.”

The feds said straphangers were never in any danger.

Much like the four men convicted this month of plotting to attack a Bronx synagogue, Ahmed was stung by an undercover FBI operation and never met any real terrorists.

His face hidden by a long beard, mustache and glasses, Ahmed appeared briefly in federal court and will be held until a detention hearing tomorrow. He said he could not afford a lawyer.

A Pakistani who became a naturalized citizen in New York 17 years ago, Ahmed worked for Ericsson telecommunications in Virginia setting up routers for the Sprint network, his LinkedIn profile says.

He received a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the College of Staten Island in 2003 and studied mechanical engineering at City College, but did not receive the graduate degree, college officials said.

Ahmed’s online profile blamed that on “a political issue between computer science and (engineering) departments.” Officials said the dispute was over academic credits, not geopolitics.

He registered as a Republican in the borough in 2002.

Neighbors in Ashburn, Va., said he moved there a year ago with his British wife, Sahar Mirza, and toddler son.

Sahar Mirza is co-organizer of a Meetup.com group for mothers of new babies called Hip Muslim Moms.

He wore casual clothes – he appeared in court in jeans – but she wore more traditional garb and covered her hair.
“He was out back mowing the lawn over the weekend. He just seemed like a normal guy. He never talked about politics,” said neighbor Barbi Shires, 43. “I’m just glad it was the FBI he did it for, not al Qaeda.”

Next door neighbor, Tanya Minor, 32, who works in a doctor’s office, said Ahmed “came to look at the house with a man who spoke his language, who said he helped people from New York find apartments here. They were very quiet. They always had the blinds closed.”

 

Pakistanis for Peace Editor’s NoteThe arrest of Faisal Shahzad and now Farooque Ahmed illustrates that unfortunately there are some within the large Pakistani and Muslim American community in the United States who mean to do us harm and they need to be caught and brought to justice. We urge all Pakistani and Muslim Americans to be vigilant and proactive in reporting anyone to the authorities who they believe have become radicalized and deemed a threat to the safety of others.

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