Gibbs lauds arrest of Virginian in alleged Metro bombing plot

A Virginia man was arrested Wednesday for allegedly planning bomb attacks on Washington's Metro system with individuals he believed to be al Qaeda operatives.

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs praised the efforts of law enforcement officials who prevented the plot directed at subway stops from being carried out.

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Gibbs said President Obama was aware of the plot by Farooque Ahmed before the 34-year-old, Pakistan-born resident of Ashburn, Va., was arrested Wednesday.

Both the White House and the Justice Department stressed that the public was never in any danger as Ahmed allegedly met with people he believed were connected to al Qaeda and photographed and studied Metrorail stations for coordinated bombings.

“It’s chilling that a man from Ashburn is accused of casing rail stations with the goal of killing as many Metro riders as possible through simultaneous bomb attacks,” said U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride in a DOJ statement. “Today’s arrest highlights the terrorism threat that exists in Northern Virginia and our ability to find those seeking to harm U.S. citizens and neutralize them before they can act. We are grateful for the outstanding work of the FBI in detecting and disrupting this plot.”

Gibbs largely declined to comment on the investigation except to praise law enforcement and national security officials.

According to the Justice Department, Ahmed was indicted on three counts by a federal grand jury on Tuesday, "charging him with attempting to provide material support to a designated terrorist organization, collecting information to assist in planning a terrorist attack on a transit facility, and attempting to provide material support to help carry out multiple bombings to cause mass casualties at D.C.-area Metrorail stations."

If convicted, Ahmed faces a maximum of 50 years in prison, the statement said.