PHOENIX – A Tucson man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to charges of plotting a terrorist attack on a motor vehicle office in metro Phoenix.
Mahin Khan is accused of asking a suspected militant for help making a pipe bomb in a plot to blow up a Motor Vehicle Division office in Maricopa County.
In court, Khan was dressed in a jail uniform, wore glasses and sported a five o'clock shadow. His only comments consisted of affirming his correct name and recognizing that he understood his legal rights.
Kahn was charged with terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism and conspiracy to commit misconduct involving weapons.
His attorney, Robert Ditsworth, opposed a request by media organizations to film the hearing. He said doing so could taint the jury pool and put Khan's family at risk as his face appears in broadcasts. "It's a very touchy subject," Ditsworth said.
Outside of court, Ditsworth declined to comment on the case against Khan.
Superior Court Judge Sam Myers said Khan will remain jailed pending the outcome of a July 19 bond hearing.
Authorities said Khan had written emails to a suspected member of the Pakistan Taliban seeking weapons and instructions for a homemade explosive. It's not clear if Khan was corresponding with an actual member of the group, but court records show that the FBI examined the emails.
In the emails, Khan said he backed the Islamic State terrorist group and was looking to carry out an attack. Court records show the person responded that he would have to pay for two rifles and a pistol he requested, so Khan said he wanted instructions for a bomb itself.
The FBI began investigating Khan after someone reported him for suspicious activity and agents were tracking him as he asked someone else on April 16 about targeting Mission Bay, California, and an Air Force recruitment center in Tucson, according to the probable cause statement filed into court records. The identity of that person was redacted, but it was not the suspected Taliban member.
The statement was written before Khan's arrest, and the plot against the motor vehicle office came to light after authorities searched his home. He was indicted in that plot because it appeared he took steps to carry it out, as opposed to his discussions against the other targets, authorities said.