In what may be the most bizarre piece of news this week, a Texas man was arrested for allegedly attempting to plot to blow up a data center in Virginia. The man apparently stated in online chats that he wanted to “kill off about 70% of the internet” according to a federal affidavit.
Seth Aaron Pendley, 28, was arrested after allegedly attempting to obtain an explosive device from an undercover FBI agent in Fort Worth, Texas, a stint that was set up after a citizen reported alarming statements made by Pendley in an online forum.
“We are indebted to the concerned citizen who came forward to report the defendant’s alarming online rhetoric. In flagging his posts to the FBI, this individual may have saved the lives of a number of tech workers,” Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah said in a statement.
“We are also incredibly proud of our FBI partners, who ensured that the defendant was apprehended with an inert explosive device before he could inflict real harm. The Justice Department is determined to apprehend domestic extremists who intend to commit violence, no matter what political sentiment drives them to do so.”
The FBI investigation, which seems straight out of a movie, started when a concerned citizen contacted the bureau about alarming statements posted by Pendley on MyMilitia.com, a forum self-described as a "network for [sic] american patriots." The bureau then investigated Pendley's Facebook account where they found more evidence of his nefarious plans.
In late January, Pendley then used Signal, an encrypted messaging app, to communicate with another confidential source that told the FBI that Pendley allegedly stated he planned to use C-4 plastic explosives to attack data centers in an attempt to “kill off about 70% of the internet.”
On March 31, the source put Pendley in contact with a supposed explosives supplier that was actually an undercover FBI agent. The agent then recorded conversations with Pendley where the culprit said he planned to attack web servers that he believed provided services to the FBI, CIA, and other federal agencies in order to bring down “the oligarchy."
Pendley was then arrested on April 8 after the FBI agent supplied him with inert explosive devices. He now faces up to 20 years in federal prison.