A Texas man has been arrested over allegations that he planned to bomb an Amazon Web Services data center in Virginia. Federal prosecutors say he aimed to “kill off about 70 percent of the internet.”
Seth Aaron Pendley, 28, of Wichita Falls, was arrested on Thursday after attempting to buy what he believed were C4 explosives but in reality were inert devices from an undercover FBI officer, reports The New York Times.
According to the criminal complaint, a citizen contacted the FBI on January 8 over screenshots posted to MyMilitia.com, a forum used for organizing militia groups. Someone using the screen name Dionysus wrote that they were planning to “conduct a little experiment” that could be “dangerous” and would “draw a lot of heat.” When another user asked Dionysus what they wanted, he responded with “Death.”
A source provided the FBI with Dionysus’ email address, which was registered to Pendley. In late January, he started communicating with another confidential source using Signal. That person told the FBI that Pendley planned to use plastic explosives to bomb Amazon Web Services data centers.
Working with the agency, the source introduced Pendley to someone he claimed was an explosives supplier but was actually an undercover fed. In one recorded conversation, Pedley said he hoped the bombings would anger “the oligarchy.”
The FBI also used subpoenaed private Facebook messages as evidence. A search of his social media account showed Pendley had boasted about being at the Capitol riot. He told an associate that while he never entered the building, he had taken a piece of glass from a Capitol window. Pendley also told an undercover officer that he had taken a sawed-off rifle to Washington on the day but left it in his car.
“We take the safety and security of our staff and customer data incredibly seriously, and constantly review various vectors for any potential threats,” said an Amazon Web Services spokesperson. “We will continue to retain this vigilance about our employees and customers.”
When officers searched Pendley’s home following his arrest, they found part of an automatic rifle, a pistol painted to look like a toy gun, wigs, masks, and a machete with the word “Dionysus” written on it. There were also hand-drawn maps, notes, and flashcards relating to his planned attack.