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Suspect in Metro bomb plot pleads not guilty; searches find weapons, lectures by radical cleric Aulaqi

By Spencer S. Hsu
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, November 9, 2010; 8:11 PM

A man charged with plotting to bomb four Northern Virginia Metro stations pleaded not guilty Tuesday, while searches of his home and office turned up numerous speeches by a radical Muslim cleric linked to al-Qaeda.

Farooque Ahmed, 34, a Pakistani-born U.S. citizen and telecommunications worker from Loudoun County, was arrested Oct. 27 in an FBI sting operation, and U.S. District Judge Gerald Bruce Lee of the Eastern District of Virginia ordered him held pending a trial April 11.

Ahmed, wearing a green prison jumpsuit, said little during a 15-minute arraignment on charges of attempting to provide material support to terrorists and assisting in an attack on a transit facility, namely providing scouting reports to FBI operatives he thought were agents of al-Qaeda and offering funds to terrorist groups. The charges carry a maximum sentence of 50 years in prison.

The office of U.S. Attorney Neil H. MacBride released lists of items recovered during searches of the Ashburn townhouse where Ahmed lived with his wife, Sahar Mirza-Ahmed, and young child; his Reston cubicle for a contractor of Ericsson; his green Honda; and several bank accounts.

Agents reported seizing a double-barreled shotgun; a .22-caliber rifle; a .40-caliber Smith & Wesson pistol; dozens of rounds of ammunition; and $8,000 in cash.

Agents also gathered seven cellphones, four laptop computers and travel records - apparently for a trip the couple said they planned to take this month for the Hajj, the Muslim holy pilgrimage - and materials related to Ahmed's training in martial arts.

Several CDs of lectures and speeches and a pamphlet by Anwar al-Aulaqi were also found.

Aulaqi, a U.S.-born radical imam whom U.S. intelligence officials have said has taken a major role with al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, is a leading English-language radicalizer and is suspected of helping direct a failed Christmas plot to blow up a jetliner over Detroit.

Aulaqi issued his latest threat in a 23-minute video posted Monday on extremist Web sites. Transcripts released by groups that monitor jihadi Web sites quote Aulaqi as freeing Muslims to kill Americans at will, without the traditional requirement of first obtaining a religious blessing, or fatwa.

"Do not consult anyone in killing the Americans. Fighting Satan does not require a jurisprudence," Aulaqi is quoted as saying.

Federal documents suggest that one of the reasons Ahmed was arrested was because he allegedly expressed concerns to undercover agents that he complete religious obligations before going overseas to fight U.S. troops in Pakistan or Afghanistan.

According to an FBI affidavit, Ahmed, whose family came to the United States in 1993, allegedly told agents that he would be ready to fight after completing the trip to Saudi Arabia this month. It was federal authorities who proposed his help in conducting surveillance on U.S. targets, according to court documents.

Ahmed's attorneys, Kenneth Troccoli and Todd Richman of the federal public defenders office, declined to comment.

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