A Wichita Falls, TX, man who allegedly plotted to blow up an Ashburn data center has been charged with a malicious attempt to destroy a building with an explosive.
According to U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Texas, Seth Aaron Pendley, 28, was arrested on Thursday after allegedly attempting to obtain an explosive device from an undercover FBI employee in Fort Worth.
According to the complaint, the investigation began after a citizen contacted the FBI on Jan. 8 about alarming statements posted on MyMilitia.com, a forum dedicated to organizing militia groups. A user who went by the screenname “Dionysus” stated he was planning to “conduct a little experiment,” that he said would “draw a lot of heat” and could be “dangerous.” When another user asked what outcome Dionysus desired, he responded, “death.”
A confidential source provided the FBI with the user’s email address, which was registered to Pendley. A subsequent search of the defendant’s Facebook account showed that he had boasted about being at the U.S. Capitol during the Jan. 6 riot.In private messages, he allegedly told friends that although he did not actually enter the Capitol building, he did reach the “platform,” where he swiped a piece of glass from a broken window and interacted with police. He said he brought a sawed-off AR rifle to D.C., but left the weapon in his car during his movement to the Capitol.
In late January, Pendley began using Signal, an encrypted messaging app, to communicate with another confidential source. The source told the FBI that Pendley stated he planned to use C-4 plastic explosives to attack Amazon Web Services data centersin an attempt to “kill of about 70% of the internet.”
On March 31, the confidential source introduced Pendley to an undercover FBI employee posing as an explosives supplier.
In recorded conversations, Pendley allegedly told the undercover he planned to attack web servers that he believed provided services to the FBI, CIA, and other federal agencies. He said he hoped to bring down “the oligarchy” currently in power in the United States.
On April 8, Pendley again met with the undercover FBI employee to pick up what he believed to be explosive devices, but actually were inert devices. After the agent showed Pendley how to arm and detonate the devices, the defendant loaded them into his car. He was then arrested by FBI agents.
If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison.
“We are indebted to the concerned citizen who came forward to report the defendant’s alarming online rhetoric. In flagging his posts to the FBI, this individual may have saved the lives of a number of tech workers,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah. “We are also incredibly proud of our FBI partners, who ensured that the defendant was apprehended with an inert explosive devicebeforehe could inflict real harm. The Justice Department is determined to apprehend domestic extremists who intend to commit violence, no matter what political sentiment drives them to do so.”