A naturalized citizen from Pakistan charged with joining what he thought was an al-Qaida plot to bomb the D.C. region's Metrorail system is expected to plead guilty to federal charges Monday.
A change of plea hearing has been scheduled in U.S. District Court for Farooque Ahmed of Ashburn, Va. The exact charges to which Ahmed would plead are unclear. He was initially charged with conspiring to provide material support to al-Qaida and collecting information for a terrorist attack on a transit facility. He entered a not guilty plea in November.
Authorities said Ahmed plotted with people who turned out to be part of a government sting. He allegedly took video of northern Virginia subway stations and suggested using rolling suitcases rather than backpacks to kill as many people as possible.
A call to Ahmed's lawyer, federal public defender Kenneth Troccoli, was not immediately returned.
Peter Carr, a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney in the eastern District of Virginia, said he had no information beyond what was posted on the court docket.
Ahmed was arrested in October following what the FBI said was a six-month sting operation. His case was one among several across the country involving terror arrests made using undercover government operatives and concocted plots. A Somali-born teenager was arrested in November in Portland after allegedly joining what he thought was a terrorist plot to set off a bomb at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony.
And in December, recent Muslim convert and naturalized citizen Antonio Martinez was arrested after agents said he tried to detonate a phony bomb outside a military recruitment center near Baltimore. Martinez' lawyer raised concerns that his client was a victim of entrapment.
The indictment against Ahmed alleges that he spent several months in 2010 scouting the Metrorail stations at Arlington National Cemetery, Pentagon City, Crystal City and near the Arlington County courthouse and reported that detonating a bomb between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. would be the best time to inflict the most casualties.
Ahmed also allegedly told the undercover conspirators that he would be willing to participate in jihad operations overseas in 2011 after making a pilgrimage to Mecca in November 2010.