US: Terror attack foiled, teen arrested for talking with Al Qaeda affiliate

A motion will be filed to prosecute the suspect as an adult

Feredral Bureau of Investigation Representational image | AP

A Philadelphia teen was taken into custody by the FBI SWAT officers, for plotting a potentially “catastrophic terrorist attack”. The 17-year-old was taken into custody on August 11 after authorities discovered that he had allegedly been communicating with an Al Qaeda-affiliated terror group and gathering bomb-making material.

The arrest was made after an investigation headed by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force. According to authorities, the teen's Instagram account had communicated with an account affiliated with Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad (KTJ), a group the State Department named a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" last March.

The group is suspected to be behind the April 2017 metro attack in Saint Petersburg, Russia, and an August 2016 suicide car bombing outside the Chinese Embassy in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan. It is primarily said to operate from Syria’s Idlib Province. 

According to the FBI agents, the teen bought bomb-making materials and “outdoor or tactical gear” and was getting guidance from KTJ on how to make improvised explosive devices. 

“The work of the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force potentially thwarted a catastrophic terrorist attack in the name of a perverted ideology that in no way, shape, or form represents the beliefs of the overwhelming majority of peace-seeking people of faith, including Muslims,” Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner told New York Post. The juvenile will avoid federal charges for now, due to him being underage.

A motion will be filed to prosecute the suspect, who has been charged with weapons of mass destruction, criminal conspiracy, arson, causing/risking catastrophe, and attempt to commit criminal mischief among others, as an adult. The FBI had also attained from the US Customs and Border Protection evidence which revealed 14 international shipments of military and tactical gear had been ordered to the juvenile’s address. 

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