A 26-year-old Virginia man is being held in federal custody after he allegedly threatened to set off bombs on the D.C. Metro system. The FBI was alerted to the threats, allegedly sent on Facebook’s instant messaging system, by an informant before any plot was developed.
Awais Younis, who also goes by the names Sundullah “Sunny” Ghilzai and Mohhanme Khan, was arrested on Dec. 7. According to federal authorities, he described how to build a pipe bomb and said he’d place bombs on the third and fifth cars of Metro trains since those trains had the highest number of commuters on them.The nature of the messages Younis allegedly sent to the FBI’s complainant indicates they had a close relationship. The complainant, who is a woman according to Younis’ Facebook messages, contacted the FBI’s New Orleans Office in late November.
Joseph Lesinski, a special agent with the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, wrote in an affidavit that the Afghanistan-born Younis said he could put a bomb underneath a sewer head in Georgetown during rush hour.
The woman told authorities she was worried because her father works in D.C. and rides the Metro to work. It was the second potential threat against the Metro system in recent months. In a sting operation that unfolded in October, the FBI arrested a 34-year-old man who thought he was working with members of al Qaeda to attack Metro stations.
According an an affidavit, Younis wrote to the woman on Dec. 5:
“you are sticking your nose where it doesn’t belong into something bigger then you and I. that is the problem with Americans they cant leave well enough alone until something happends then they sit there wondering why we dropped the twin towers like a bad habit hahaha. im telling you right now you are going to regret doing what you did. for your peace i hope what i am hearing is all lies.”
The affidavit states that a photograph on Facebook shows Younis “in Afghanistan holding an AK-47 rifle with his uncle standing in front of a tent with explosives in the tent. The caption for the photograph read, ‘My family business’.”
Another photo posted on Dec. 1 shows a hand holding rifle rounds for a machine gun with the caption reading “bullet behind every rock.” The complainant to the FBI that Younis recently stated on Facebook that “Christmas trees were going to go boom,” a possible reference to the plot against a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Oregon.
The FBI sent a preservation request to Facebook for Ghilzai’s profile on Dec. 2. His Facebook profile says he attended George Mason University where he studied biology and chemistry.
[H/T Washington Examiner]
Late Update: “Younis has not been charged with any federal terrorism violation,” Peter Carr of the U.S. Attorney’s office for the Eastern District of Virginia told TPM in a statement. “Younis has a detention hearing in the Eastern District of Virginia scheduled for Dec. 21. The public should be reassured that his activities prior to his arrest were carefully monitored and that there is no threat against Metrorail or the general public in the Washington, D.C., area.”
While the Facebook profile associated with Younis indicates he was born in 1984, federal records indicate Younis was born in 1985 and is 25-years-old, said Carr.