WICHITA FALLS, Texas - Authorities are crediting a "concerned citizen" for tipping them off about a 28-year-old Wichita Falls man who investigators said was plotting to blow up a data center in Virginia.
Seth Aaron Pendley was arrested Thursday and charged with a malicious attempt to destroy a building with an explosive after authorities said he tried to buy an explosive device from an undercover FBI employee in Fort Worth.
According to a release from Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas Prerak Shah, the criminal complaint against Pendley shows the investigation began on January 8, when someone contacted the FBI about "alarming" posts on MyMilitia.com, which is a forum for organizing militia groups.
The account "Dionysus," which was registered to Pendley, posted about an "experiment" that would result in "death."
Authorities then found Pendley’s Facebook page, where he reportedly bragged about being at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the day of the riots at the Capitol.
He reportedly told friends he didn’t go into the Capitol building, but reached the "platform," interacted with police, and took a piece of glass from a broken window.
He also said he brought a sawed-off AR rifle to D.C., but left it in his car when he went to the Capitol, according to court documents.
In late January, Pendley started using the encrypted messaging app, Signal. He was communicating with someone, who told the FBI that Pendley said he was planning to use C-4 to attack data centers to "kill of about 70% of the internet."
The person Pendley was chatting with then introduced him to a person who claimed to be an explosives supplier, but it was actually an undercover FBI employee.
The FBI employee recorded conversations with Pendley, in which he reportedly said he was going to attack web servers that were used by the FBI, CIA, and other federal agencies, in hopes to bring down "the oligarchy" currently in power in the United States.
He was reportedly targeting Amazon Web Services data centers in Ashburn, Virginia.
On Thursday, Pendley met with the undercover FBI employee to pick up what he thought were explosive devices.
Pendley was later arrested by FBI agents.
If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison.