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
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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.


Saudi crown prince’s visit to Pakistan raises hopes for trade boost

Updated 17 February 2019
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Saudi crown prince’s visit to Pakistan raises hopes for trade boost

  • Experts say the strong strategic and defense relationship needs to be extended to trade cooperation

ISLAMABAD: The Saudi crown prince’s visit to Pakistan must be utilized to open new avenues of cooperation between the staunch allies, Pakistani analysts said.

Mohammed bin Salman is expected to bring with him a record investment package, including a $10 billion refinery and oil complex in the deepwater Gwadar Port on the Arabian Sea.

Former Pakistani diplomat Javed Hafeez said bilateral relations have so far mostly revolved around defense and strategic cooperation, but there is a need to “diversify” and focus on trade and economic cooperation.

“Trade between both Islamic countries is minimal, and this needs to be enhanced to the fullest,” Hafeez told Arab News. 

There is huge potential for Pakistan to increase its exports of food items, garments, medicines and sports goods to the Kingdom, he said.

“The crown prince’s visit is good news for Pakistan, as this shows Saudi Arabia’s close association and love for our people,” Hafeez added. 

The crown prince has emerged as “one of the most influential figures in the Muslim world,” and his visit to Pakistan will “definitely open new avenues of cooperation between both countries,” Hafeez said. 

Last year, Saudi Arabia agreed to give Pakistan $3 billion in foreign currency support for a year, and a further loan worth up to $3 billion in deferred payments for oil imports to help stave off a current account crisis. Pakistan has so far received $3 billion in cash.

Rasul Bukhsh Rais, professor of political science, said the crown prince’s visit is a “welcome move at a time when Pakistan is struggling to improve its image as a peaceful country in the international community.”

Rais added that Islamabad should include Saudi Arabia as a third partner in the $60 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which aims to turn Pakistan into a major route linking western China to the world.

“Saudi Arabia can easily connect to China and Central Asian states by using Pakistan’s strategic location in the region,” he said. “Wider economic cooperation between these countries will help the whole region prosper.”

International affairs analyst Zafar Nawaz Jaspal said the crown prince’s visit will help expand bilateral relations and accelerate much-needed trade and economic cooperation.

“The crown prince’s visit … will help materialize numerous investment projects in Pakistan,” Jaspal added. “In today’s world, mutual economic association and bilateral trade … are considered to be a yardstick to determine the depth of the (Saudi-Pakistani) relationship.”