EDIT: This story has been updated. Officials have confirmed the identity of the man who was arrested. Click HERE for the latest story.
A man from Cumming has been charged by the FBI and the United States Department of Justice for allegedly planning to use explosives to attack federal buildings in the Washington D.C. area.
At a press conference held on Wednesday, U.S. Attorney Byung J. Pak stated that 21-year-old Hasher Jallal Taheb, who attended Forsyth Central High School for two years and graduated in 2015, has been charged for allegedly plotting to attack the White House and “other targets of opportunity in the Washington D.C. area” using improvised explosive devices and anti-tank rockets.
A criminal complaint filed against Taheb in U.S. District Court details that a FBI confidential source first made contact with Taheb on or about Aug. 25, 2018, after Taheb allegedly advertised a vehicle for sale, later telling the source he planned to travel overseas to territory controlled by the Islamic State.
The complaint states that because Taheb had no passport, he allegedly advised the source that he “wished to conduct an attack in the United States” against targets including “the Washington Monument, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and a specific synagogue.”
Over the next five months, Taheb allegedly made plans with the FBI source and another FBI undercover employee to sell their vehicles, buy weapons, including semi-automatic weapons, improvised explosive devices, a shoulder-fired anti-armor weapon and hand grenades, that they would use in the attack on Jan. 17, 2019 after traveling to Washington D.C. on or about Jan. 15, 2019.
On Jan. 16, 2019, Taheb and his two undercover accomplices allegedly met at a store in Buford and received a number of inert weapons and explosive devices from another FBI undercover employee. Taheb was then taken into custody by FBI agents.
In the press conference Wednesday, Special Agent in Charge of FBI Atlanta Chris Hacker said that the investigation is ongoing, but at this stage it is believed that Taheb was acting alone.
According to Hacker, Taheb’s arrest was the result of a year-long investigation by FBI Atlanta’s Joint Terrorism Task Force and he was taken into custody with help from the Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office and the Gwinnett County Police Department.
In his remarks, Pak stated that the operation began after the FBI Atlanta's Joint Terrorism Task Force received a tip from the community and no threats were posed to any targets in the Northern District of Georgia during the investigation.
“Because the FBI, U.S. Secret Service, and numerous federal, state and law enforcement partners are active participants in the JTTF, all potential threats have been neutralized and were under control from the inception of this case,” Pak stated.
According to Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman, Taheb appeared in U.S. District Court in downtown Atlanta on Wednesday afternoon before he was placed into the custody of the U.S. Marshal’s Service.
Freeman also stated that the incident is a perfect example of the “see something, say something” principle put into action and why it is important for law enforcement agencies to have strong outside ties.
“We received a report of suspicious activity and worked within the system to report it to our partner agencies,” Freeman said.