A man who says he was at the Capitol during the rioting there by Trump supporters in January has now been arrested by federal authorities for plotting to bomb Amazon Web Services data centers. The man, Seth Aaron Pendley, told a confidential source for the FBI that he hoped to “kill off about 70 percent of the internet,” as reported by The New York Times, and Pendley told an undercover agent who subsequently got in touch with him through the source that he was apparently hoping to affect web servers used by federal agencies including the FBI and CIA.
Pendley was targeting an Amazon center in Virginia, and his plot to bomb the facility would have presumably included the deaths of staffers who were on the premises. He was arrested on Thursday in Texas, where he lives, after accepting what he believed to be components for explosives from the undercover agent. In fact, the materials were inert, and he was promptly arrested and charged with a malicious attempt to destroy a building with an explosive, according to Prerak Shah, who serves as acting U.S. attorney for the Northern District of Texas. Pendley could face two decades in prison.
Federal authorities began their investigation into Pendley after a tipster provided information about comments on a website called MyMilitia.com, where militia supporters gather. Pendley did not use his given name for his posts on the site, but a source provided authorities with the email address associated with the account that he used, and investigators found that the email was Pendley’s.
Federal investigators “found hand-drawn maps, notes and flashcards relating to the planned attack as well as masks and wigs, a pistol that had been painted to look like a toy gun and a machete with “Dionysus” [his MyMilitia.com username] on the blade,” according the Times. Shah commented as follows:
‘We are indebted to the concerned citizen who came forward to report the defendant’s alarming online rhetoric. In flagging his posts to the F.B.I., this individual may have saved the lives of a number of tech workers. We are also incredibly proud of our F.B.I. partners, who ensured that the defendant was apprehended with an inert explosive device before he could inflict real harm.’
Pendley’s presence at the Capitol during the January rioting doesn’t appear to be the focus of the criminal case against him, but authorities discovered that he told someone via Facebook that he had been at the complex amidst the violence. He claimed that he didn’t enter the building, but he said that he did take a piece of glass from a shattered Capitol window like some kind of demented souvenir, and he later claimed to the undercover FBI agent that he had a sawed off rifle with him on the day of the rioting that he left in his car.