The Justice Department announced Thursday that Hasher Jallal Taheb, 23, who lived in Cumming, Georgia, pleaded to guilty to a charge of “attempting to destroy, by fire or an explosive, a building owned by or leased to the United States” after being arrested in 2019 for plotting an attack on the White House.
According to Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers, Taheb “planned to conduct a terrorist attack on the White House as part of what he claimed was his obligation to engage in jihad.”
Demers said that the White House “was just one of the iconic American landmarks he wanted to target, adding, “Thanks to a tip from a member of the community and the work of the agents, analysts, and prosecutors responsible for this case, the threat posed by the defendant was neutralized and the defendant has admitted his guilt and will now be held accountable for his crime.”
Taheb’s plot was described as “dangerous” and likely to “result in unimaginable injury” by U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Byung J. Pak.
The Justice Department stated in a press release that Taheb first landed on the FBI’s radar in March 2018, when “a member of the Atlanta community reported concerns about Taheb to a local law enforcement agency, which then contacted the FBI. The community member specifically alerted law enforcement that Taheb had become radicalized and was making plans to travel abroad.”
From the press release:
During an undercover operation conducted by the FBI, federal investigators learned in October 2018 that Taheb planned to travel overseas and that he had applied for a United States passport in July 2018. The FBI also learned that Taheb had begun planning domestic attacks in the United States as part of his desire to engage in “jihad.” His targets initially included the White House and the Statue of Liberty. Later, in December 2018, Taheb broadened his prospective targets in the Washington, D.C. area, to include the Washington Monument, the White House, the Lincoln Memorial, and a synagogue.
During undercover meetings with Taheb in January 2019, he produced sketches of the White House and described the types of weapons and explosives he wished to use in the attack, including semi-automatic weapons, improvised explosive devices, an anti-tank weapon, and hand grenades. FBI special agents arrested Taheb on Jan. 16, 2019, after he arrived at a pre-arranged location where he expected to obtain semi-automatic assault rifles, explosive devices, and an anti-tank weapon.
The Justice Department stated that “As part of the plea agreement, the defendant and the government agreed that the defendant should receive a 15-year sentence of imprisonment.”