New court documents have been released detailing how an FBI sting led to the arrest of a man originally from Iraq. He’s accused of showing off his bomb-making skills to an informant who convinced him he was plotting an attack.
Federal investigators swooped in and arrested Ahmad Suhad Ahmad for showing them how to build and blow up a bomb. The sting operation lasted nearly two years.
According to court documents that were just unsealed, Ahmad first told an FBI criminal informant back in December 2016 that “he knew how to detonate a bomb by using a cellular phone.” He allegedly said the “bombs were easy to make,” and that he learned how to do it “during the war in Iraq.”
Sources tell CBS News Ahmad is an Iraqi refugee who is now a U.S. citizen.
Prosecutors say Ahmad was asked by the informant “how to make a car bomb for a target in Mexico.” Ahmad agreed and provided images of “explosive materials and instructions on his cell phone,” later sending a text message “with a bomb recipe written in Arabic.”
Undercover FBI agents say Ahmad later traveled with them to a condo in Las Vegas to build the device. He allegedly gave agents a list of bomb-making materials, which they supplied, though Ahmad also brought some of his own tools.
Over the next several hours, undercover agents say Ahmad built the bomb while explaining how to do it, even showing “how to connect the blasting caps and where to place the C-4.”
CBS News spoke to Ahmad’s attorney, who declined to talk about the case. There is nothing in the court documents that suggests he had any plans to carry out an attack of his own. He’ll be in court for an arraignment on Friday.
According to a source close to the FBI investigation the primary device Ahmad built was hidden inside a suitcase while the Iraqi also helped the agents construct a second device inside a laptop computer.
Both devices, for which Ahmad was paid around $4,000, were designed to be detonated using a cell phone trigger.
It’s also believed Ahmad – who is now a US citizen along with his brother, both aged 29 – was flown from Tucson to Vegas on a private jet, all on the FBI’s expense.
The Iraqi, who works as a mechanic, then secretly constructed the two bombs while staying in a $2.4million two-bed apartment at the luxury Mandarin Oriental near the Vegas strip in April, 2017.
‘Before he started he knelt down in the apartment and prayed to Allah. The device was basic and comprised of a car alarm bought from Fry’s Electronics in Vegas.
‘Ahmad and all the FBI guys went there to buy the car alarm, they were literally driving up the strip with a bomb in the car.
‘After he built it he asked the FBI operative, who had been posing as a Mexican cartel drug dealer, for a glass of milk, it was a bizarre moment.’
In court documents Ahmad is accused of showing undercover FBI agents how to connect the blasting caps and where to place the C-4 on the bombs – intended to hit a target in Mexico.
According to the paperwork filed at the US District Court in Tuscon, Arizona, Ahmad, is also accused of teaching ‘the making and use of an explosive, destructive device, or weapon of mass desturction’, to another person between March and April, 2017.
He allegedly provided an undercover FBI operative with homemade bomb recipes and taught them how to construct ‘remote-detonating bombs’.
Ahmad told a confidential FBI source how to detonate a bomb using a cell phone with a removable battery – a trick he said he learned during the war in Iraq, the papers allege.
‘Ahmad said the bombs were easy to make,’ it states.