Georgia man ‘planned to fire anti-tank rocket at White House’

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Georgia man 'planned to fire anti-tank rocket at White House'

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption A 21-year-old man is accused of plotting to attack the White House and other monuments in DC

A 21-year-old man from the US state of Georgia has been arrested over an alleged terror plot to attack the White House and Statue of Liberty.

Hasher Jallal Taheb was arrested after trading his car for semi-automatic rifles, anti-tank and explosive devices, say court documents.

Authorities say Mr Taheb detailed his plans to an undercover FBI agent and informant last year.

He reportedly plotted to attack the White House on Thursday 17 January.

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Mr Taheb allegedly told the undercover agent he planned to blow up a door of the West Wing with an anti-tank rocket in order to enter and kill people.

He was immediately arrested in Buford, Georgia, on Wednesday after he accepted the dud weapons from undercover FBI agents in return for his car.

The FBI said he discussed how to use the weapons and detonate the explosives with the undercover agent during the exchange, and planned on driving straight to Washington DC.

He is charged with attempting to destroy a federal building and faces up to 20 years in prison. It is unclear if Mr Taheb has a lawyer.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Mr Taheb is accused of plotting to blow up the entrance to the West Wing

The Joint Terrorism Task Force had been investigating Mr Taheb for months after receiving a tip that he had been radicalised, Special Agent Chris Hacker said in a statement.

"It is important to point out that this investigation and arrest were the direct result of a tip from the community, another example of how important it is to contact law enforcement if you see or hear something suspicious."

The FBI began monitoring Mr Taheb through an undercover agent last August, when they learned he had put his vehicle up for sale, allegedly to fund a trip to the Islamic State.

An FBI source said because Mr Taheb did not have a passport, he decided he would carry out a domestic attack, naming the White House and Statue of Liberty as possible sites.

The complaint states Mr Taheb felt "jihad was an obligation, that he wanted to do as much damage as possible, and that he expected to be a martyr", the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.

Days after meeting the agent and another informant, Mr Taheb showed them a "hand-drawn diagram" of the West Wing, believing the two would join him in his operation, according to the complaint.

The FBI says that by December, Mr Taheb had escalated his vitriolic rhetoric about the US and Israel and hoped to include a specific unnamed synagogue, the Washington Monument and Lincoln Memorial in his attack on the capital.

He said he wanted to record a video to inspire others to join the attack, showing "clips of oppressed Muslims… and American and Israeli flags would be burned in the background".

The FBI's announcement of Mr Taheb's capture comes as thousands of the agency's staff are working without pay or have been temporarily laid off during the partial government shutdown.

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