ATLANTA – Two men already accused of discussing terror targets with Islamic extremists were indicted Wednesday on charges of undergoing paramilitary training in northwest Georgia and plotting a "violent jihad" against civilian and government targets, including an air base in suburban Atlanta.
The new indictment accuses Syed Ahmed, a 21-year-old Georgia Tech student who was arrested in March, and Ehsanul Islam Sadequee, 19, of traveling to Washington to film possible targets, including the U.S. Capitol and the headquarters of the World Bank, and sharing the recordings with another alleged terrorist based in Great Britain.
Both men are U.S. citizens who grew up in Atlanta area. They previously were accused of traveling to Canada last year to meet with Islamic extremists to discuss "strategic locations in the United States suitable for a terrorist strike," including military bases and oil refineries, according to prosecutors.
U.S. Attorney David E. Nahmias called Wednesday's indictment "another important step in this significant terrorism investigation," but stressed that it does not allege that the two "posed an imminent threat to the United States."
Ahmed was born in Pakistan; Sadequee was born in Virginia and is of Bangladeshi descent. The new indictment says their motivation for planning attacks was "defense of Muslims or retaliation for acts committed against Muslims."
The indictment alleges that the two men received paramilitary training at an undisclosed location in northwest Georgia in late 2004 and early 2005, and discussed plans for various attacks, including one at Dobbins Air Reserve Base in the Atlanta suburb of Marietta.
Ahmed also is accused of traveling to Pakistan in an unsuccessful attempt to train with Lashkar-e-Tayyaba, or Army of the Righteous, an Islamic extremist group that has been active in India for several years. Two U.S. officials have said last week's train bombings in Bombay matched the methods the group has previously used.
Wednesday's indictment charges both men with providing and attempting to provide material support to terrorists, attempting to provide material support to a foreign terrorist organization and related conspiracy counts. The Army of the Righteous is the foreign terrorist organization referred to in the indictment.
An attorney for Ahmed, Jack Martin, and one for Sadequee, Douglas Morris, did not immediately return calls Wednesday seeking comment.
Martin has said investigators used Ahmed's devotion to Islam to get him to talk and reneged on a promise not to arrest him if he told the truth. A judge is considering a request by Martin to suppress statements Ahmed made to the FBI or force the government to abide by the alleged agreement not to prosecute him.
An indictment unsealed in April charged Ahmed with suspicion of giving material support of terrorism, and Sadequee with making materially false statements in connection with an ongoing federal terrorism investigation. Prosecutors say the men met with at least three other targets of ongoing FBI terrorism investigations last year during a trip to Canada.
The FBI has said the men may have had limited contact with some of 17 suspects arrested in Canada last month in an alleged plot to bomb buildings in that country, but Nahmias on Wednesday declined to comment on whether Ahmed and Sadequee met up with those suspects.
The U.S. attorney also would not say whether the two had been in contact with any alleged al-Qaida operatives, or elaborate beyond what was in the 13-page indictment, citing national security reasons.
Nahmias said he has requested Sadequee be returned to Georgia from New York, where he has been held since his extradition from Bangladesh, where he was arrested. Nahmias declined to say where Ahmed was being held.