ATLANTA – Federal authorities on Wednesday announced a terrorist case against a metro Atlanta resident accused of plotting to destroy the White House and other Washington D.C. government buildings.
Hasher Jallal Taheb of Cumming, Georgia, was arrested in Gwinnett County and appeared briefly in court in downtown Atlanta in the case brought the FBI.
“His alleged intent was to attack the White House and other targets of opportunity in the Washington, D.C. area,” U.S. Attorney B.J. Pak said.
Pak said Taheb intended to use IEDs and an anti-tank rocket to carry out the attacks.
The criminal complaint, which accuses him of plotting to destroy a government building, said a community member contacted law enforcement in March 2018 to say that Taheb had become radicalized.
On Aug. 25, 2018, Taheb allegedly put his vehicle up for sale. An FBI informant reached out to show interest and met with the suspect days later.
Taheb allegedly said he planned to travel to “hijra,” a term said to refer to Islamic State territory and he was selling the car to fund the trip. But he didn’t have a passport.
He allegedly told the informant he wanted to attack the White House and Statue of Liberty in jihadist attacks.
During one meeting with an FBI 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.”
At another meeting, he showed the undercover agent a hand-drawn diagram of the ground floor of the West Wing of the White House and detailed a plan for attack, the affidavit says. He asked the undercover agent to obtain the weapons and explosives needed to carry out the attack, and they discussed selling or exchanging their cars to pay for them.
Last week, Taheb told the undercover agent he wanted to pick up weapons this week and drive directly to Washington to carry out the attack, investigators said.
Authorities said all threats have been neutralized and the suspect was believed to have been acting alone.
According to the affidavit, local law enforcement went to the FBI after a community member raised concerns about Taheb in March 2018, noting that he had become “radicalized, changed his name and made plans to travel abroad.” That’s when the Atlanta Joint Terrorism Task Force stepped in and put in motion a plan to catch Taheb.
According to the complaint, undercover agents from the FBI first made contact with Taheb last fall after he listed his car in an online ad. During an October meeting, the 21-year-old told one of the undercover agents he planned to sell his car to fund a trip overseas, and expressed a desire to become a martyr through jihad, which Taheb described as “the best deed in Islam.”
On Dec. 2, 2018, Taheb arranged a meeting with both undercover agents, during which he said that they would be able to do more damage if they stayed in the United States. The complaint states Taheb explained he wanted to carry out an attack on the U.S. against well-known targets, like the White House and the Statue of Liberty.
The complaint explains how Taheb provided the undercover agents with hand-drawn diagrams of the ground floor of the White House West Wing, and tasked the two with obtaining weapons and explosives needed to carry out the attack. The affidavit says he planned to acquire semi-automatic weapons, improvised explosive devices, an AT-4 and hand grenades.
The affidavit states Taheb used an encrypted social media messaging app to communicate with the undercover agents, referring to the planned plot as “game day planning” and the acquisition of weapons as “grocery shopping.”
In subsequent meetings in December, Taheb told the agents that he wanted to attack more landmarks in D.C., including the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and a specific synagogue. He planned to have a base, where he could record video of a speech “to motivate people,” featuring burning American and Israeli flags.
Taheb reportedly outlined the details of the plan of attack in a 40-page Google Document, as well as a his justification for creating and leading his group to conduct the violence.
According to the complaint, Taheb, who had never actually shot a gun before, planned to purchase the weapons Jan. 15 and wanted to carry out the attack two days later to “take down as many (people) as they possibly could.”
On Jan. 16, the complaint states Taheb showed up to the parking lot of a Buford, Georgia store in order to pick up the weapons he planned to purchase – that’s where federal agents arrested him.
Taheb has been charged with violating Title 18USC 844(f)(1), an “attempt to damage by means of an explosive any building owned, possessed, or leased by the United States or any department or agency thereof, or any institution or organization receiving federal financial assistance.”