FBI: Man wanted to attack White House with antitank rocket

File photo showing the White House in Washington, D.C. (Reuters)
Updated 17 January 2019

FBI: Man wanted to attack White House with antitank rocket

  • Hasher Jallal Taheb, 21, was arrested in an FBI sting operation Wednesday
  • The FBI set up the sting after a local law enforcement agency said in March that it got a tip from someone who said Taheb had become radicalized

ATLANTA, GEORGIA: A Georgia man who traded his car for an antitank rocket and explosives in a plot to storm the White House is under arrest, authorities said.
Hasher Jallal Taheb, 21, of Cumming, was arrested in an FBI sting operation Wednesday and is charged with attempting to damage or destroy a building owned by the United States using fire or an explosive, U.S. Attorney Byung J. "BJay" Pak said.
It wasn't immediately clear whether Taheb had an attorney who could comment on the allegations.
The FBI set up the sting after a local law enforcement agency said in March that it got a tip from someone who said Taheb had become radicalized, changed his name and planned to travel abroad, according to an FBI agent's affidavit filed in court.
Taheb told the undercover agent he had never shot a gun but could learn easily and also said he had watched some videos of how grenades explode, authorities said.
The affidavit says Taheb told a confidential FBI source in October that he planned to travel abroad for "hijra," which the agent wrote refers to traveling to territory controlled by the Islamic State. Because he didn't have a passport, he couldn't travel abroad and told the FBI source that he wanted to carry out an attack in the U.S. against the White House and the Statue of Liberty.
He met with the undercover agent and the FBI source multiple times last month and was also in frequent contact using an encrypted messaging application, the affidavit says.
During one meeting with the 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.
Taheb told the undercover agent they needed a "base" where they could regroup and where he could record a video to motivate people: "He stated he would be the narrator, clips of oppressed Muslims would be shown, and American and Israeli flags would be burned in the background."
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.
Taheb said they would approach the White House from the back road, causing a distraction for police and then would proceed into the White House, using an antitank weapon to blow open a door and then take down as many people and do as much damage as possible, the affidavit says.
Taheb met with the FBI source and undercover agent on Wednesday in a parking lot in Buford to exchange their cars for semi-automatic assault rifles, three explosive devices with remote detonators and an anti-tank rocket, the affidavit says.
A second FBI source met them and inspected the vehicles, and a second FBI undercover agent arrived in a tractor-trailer with weapons and explosives that had been rendered inert by the FBI. The undercover agent and Taheb talked about the guns, how to arm and detonate the explosives and how to use the antitank rocket, the affidavit says.
Taheb and the undercover agent and FBI source whom he believed to be part of his group turned over their car keys to the second confidential source and then loaded the inert explosives and guns into a rental vehicle, the affidavit says. Then, after they got into the car and closed the doors, agents arrested Taheb.


Families grieve after Kabul wedding blast

An Afghan man mourns during the funeral of his brother after a bomb exploded at a wedding hall killing 63 people and injuring 200 others. (Reuters)
Updated 56 min 24 sec ago

Families grieve after Kabul wedding blast

  • Bride’s relatives, members of music band among victims of Daesh attack

KABUL: Mirwais Elmi’s special night soon became a bloodbath after a suicide bomber detonated explosives in the hotel hall where his wedding ceremony was taking place, killing more than 63 people and injuring 200 others in Kabul on Sunday. Elmi and his bride, who were in separate areas of the venue, survived the blast. The explosion took place just before dinner was to be served to the nearly 1,000 guests who had gathered in the southwest of the city.
The local Daesh affiliate claimed responsibility for the attack Speaking to a private TV channel on Sunday, a shaken Elmi was unable to describe the carnage that took place.
“I am not a groom today, my family, my friends are all in grief,” Elmi, who is in his early 20s and works as a tailor, said.
He added that he never thought “such an incident would happen during my wedding party.”
As survivors buried victims of the attack, an infant’s milk bottle and an invitation card could be seen near one of the hotel’s walls, badly damaged by the blast.
The attack comes as the US and Taliban close in on a peace deal which would lead to the complete withdrawal of foreign troops from Afghanistan, nearly 18 years after the Taliban were ousted. The group immediately distanced themselves from the attack and strongly condemned it.
Elmi’s father-in-law lost 14 members of his family, while another man lost three of his sons, four nephews and five of his aunt’s grandchildren, according to survivor accounts.
“My family and my bride are in shock, they cannot speak. My bride keeps fainting. I lost my brother, I lost my friends, I lost my relatives. I will never see happiness in my life again,” he said. All five members of the wedding’s music band were killed. The groom and bride’s families, like many of those attending the ceremony, belonged to poor families.  
None of the guests were government officials sought by Daesh or other militant groups.

Government leaders live behind heavily protected compounds, drive in armored vehicles and have their families living abroad, but we ordinary Afghans are suffering routinely.

Ghulam Hussien Nasiri, Lawmaker

Many of the victims were children and young men. The hotel had no guards and guests were not body searched, according to survivors.
Shi’ite cultural centers and an anti-government protest have all recently come under attack, but Sunday’s wedding blast was the first of its kind, evoking a reaction from President Ashraf Ghani. He blamed Daesh for the incident. “I strongly condemn the inhumane attack on the wedding hall in Kabul. My top priority for now is to reach out to the families of victims of this barbaric attack. On behalf of the nation, I send my heartfelt condolences to the families of those who were martyred. “The Taliban cannot absolve themselves of blame, for they provide a platform for terrorists,” he tweeted.
Ghulam Hussien Nasiri, a lawmaker, said the attack exposed the government’s weakness.
“Government leaders live behind heavily protected compounds, drive in armored vehicles and have their families living abroad, but we ordinary Afghans are suffering routinely,” he told Arab News.