A Virginia man charged with plotting attacks on Washington-area Metro stations under the belief that he was aiding al Qaeda has been sentenced to 23 years in prison.
Farooque Ahmed, 35, of Ashburn, Va., pleaded guilty to charges of “attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization and collecting information to assist in planning a terrorist attack on a transit facility,” according to a statement released Monday by the Department of Justice.

Born in Pakistan, the naturalized U.S. citizen met with people he believed were connected to al Qaeda and photographed and studied Metrorail stations for coordinated bombings last October, according to authorities.

“Mr. Ahmed today admitted he was determined to kill as many people as possible through multiple bombings at the heart of our nation’s capital,” U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride said in the statement. “It’s chilling that a man from Ashburn could admit to planning these acts of terrorism, and a 23-year sentence is a just punishment. We are grateful for the outstanding work of the FBI in detecting and disrupting this plot.”

Todd Hinnen, acting assistant attorney general for national security added that the plea deal “provides a powerful example of how law enforcement and intelligence officials working together continue to use the criminal justice system to protect America from attack, obtain intelligence from terrorists, and secure their lawful, long-term detention."

Following Ahmed’s arrest on Oct. 27, both the White House and Justice Department emphasized that the public was never in any danger during the months-long investigation. The FBI was said to be aware of Ahmed’s activities before the alleged attempt began and monitored his activities until his arrest.