The FBI said it learned in January that a Pakistani-born man arrested in the Metro-bomb sting was trying to make contact with terrorist groups to help him participate in jihad against U.S. forces overseas.
Newly released court documents make it clear that it was not Farooque Ahmed who came up with the idea of conducting surveillance on the Metro system but rather his undercover handlers, according to NBC News correspondent Pete Williams. The Metro stations under surveillance by Ahmed were Arlington Cemetery, Courthouse, Crystal City and Pentagon City. He also monitored security at a D.C. hotel, according to the indictment.
The documents say the FBI first became aware of Ahmed in January, when it "learned that Ahmed and an associate were inquiring about making contact with a terrorist organization in order to participate in jihad by traveling overseas to fight coalition forces in Afghanistan and Pakistan."
The FBI then reached out to him with an e-mail claiming an offer to set him up with al-Qaida operatives in the U.S.
In May, at a face-to-face meeting with investigators pretending to be terrorists, Ahmed was told that he would be required to complete certain tasks in preparation for an operation, according to the FBI. He was asked if he'd be willing to conduct surveillance on the Metro system and he agreed to do so, according to the documents.
Surveillance audio captures Ahmed saying that he wanted to fight and kill Americans in Afghanistan, and become a martyr, according to the documents. He first wanted to attend the Hajj, a religious pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia., later this year.
"Ahmed told both Operative-1 and Operative-2 he was attending Hajj this year and that they should all go in order to complete the five pillars of Islam before making the 'top mark' -- by which I believe Ahmed mean 'becoming a martyr,'" FBI agent Charles Dayoub wrote.
Davoub also said that Ahmed either bought, or tried to buy, weapons in May 2008 and February 2009 and is believed to have used firearms to train for his goal of traveling to Afghanistan to kill Americans.
Ahmed also told the operatives he had studied martial arts for four years, learned knife and disarming techniques, and could teach those skills to others and purchase additional firearms, Davoub wrote.
FBI agents looked for computers, associated equipment, software and instruction manuals for the equipment when they searched his Ashburn townhouse Wednesday, according to Davoub's warrant application. They also applied to seize Ahmed's 2005 Honda Accord and all assets in his bank account.
Ahmed was arrested Wednesday and accused of casing Washington-area subway stations in what he thought was an al-Qaida plot to bomb and kill commuters. Davoub said Ahmed, a naturalized citizen, has lived in this country since 1993.
Not knowing the bombing plot was an FBI ruse, Ahmed readily handed over video of Metro stations, suggested using rolling suitcases rather than backpacks to kill as many people as possible and offered to donate money to al-Qaida's cause overseas.
There was no immediate detail on the identity or role of Ahmed's unnamed associate, though Davoub said Ahmed was accompanied by an unnamed associate, presumably the same person, on some of his trips to case subway stations, so another rest seems likely, Williams reported.
Ahmed's lawyer, federal public defender Kenneth Troccoli, declined to comment on the case Thursday.
At his first meeting with undercover agents at a Dulles hotel on April 18, the FBI secretly videotaped the encounter, Ahmed accepted a Koran that contained "documents providing code words for locations to be used for future meeting," the affidavit said.
A LinkedIn page that was created for Farooque Ahmed identifies him as a network planning engineer with a bachelor's degree in computer science from the City College of New York in 2003, during the same period that other records showed he had been living in New York, the Associated Press reported. In Reston, Va., Ericsson Federal Inc. issued a statement confirming that Ahmed had done contract work for the company.
A check of legal records for Ahmed found several traffic offenses in Virginia, including speeding.
Neighbor Margaret Petney said Ahmed moved in about a year and a half ago with his wife and young child, and that they wore traditional Muslim clothing.
Ahmed's wife, Sahar, joined the Hip Muslim Moms, a support group for women with children under 5 years old, and took her young son to play dates with other mothers, said group organizer Esraa Bani. She had moved to the area and was looking for a mothers group when she joined. She was very quiet and kept to herself.
Petney observed that "they didn't seem to be too friendly with anybody."