PHILADELPHIA – A federal grand jury indicted a man on charges of offering to help Al Qaeda blow up fuel facilities in at least three states.
Michael Curtis Reynolds was charged in U.S. District Court in Scranton Tuesday with two counts of providing material support for a terrorist organization and two counts of seeking to take part in the destruction of property used in interstate or foreign commerce.
He was already awaiting trial in the case on two counts of unlawful possession of a firearm or an explosive device.
The FBI arrested Reynolds in December after authorities said he tried to meet a purported Al Qaeda contact in a sting operation about 25 miles from a motel in Pocatello, Idaho, where he had been staying.
Authorities said he expected to receive $40,000 to finance an alleged plot to blow up pipelines and refineries. The man Reynolds met with was a Montana judge who was working for the FBI.
Reynolds wanted to help Al Qaeda units attack fuel facilities "to reduce energy reserves, create environmental hazards, increase anxiety, and require substantial expenditure of funds and government personnel, including the military, to protect those locations," the indictment alleges.
Reynolds has been held without bail in the Lackawanna County jail since his arrest on charges of illegally possessing hand grenades.
Joseph O'Brien, Reynolds' attorney, declined comment on the indictment, saying he had just received it and had not been able to discuss it with his client. Reynolds had been scheduled for trial on the explosives charges in November, O'Brien said.
At a December detention hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney John C. Gurganus Jr. said Reynolds had tried to work with Al Qaeda to target the Williams natural gas refinery in Opal, Wyo.; the Transcontinental Pipeline, a natural-gas pipeline that runs from the Gulf Coast through Pennsylvania to New York and New Jersey; and a Standard Oil refinery in Perth Amboy, N.J., that no longer exists.
Gurganus said the defendant had told authorities that he was trying to expose terrorist cells, but they did not believe him because he sought a fraudulent passport to leave the country following the attacks.
Gurganus did not immediately return a telephone message left Tuesday seeking comment.
Reynolds was convicted of arson in 1978 in connection with an attempt to blow up his parents' house in New York state.