Texas man pleads guilty to plotting attack on Virginia Amazon data center
A Texas man has pleaded guilty in federal court to plotting an attack on an Amazon data center in Virginia.
Seth Aaron Pendley, 28, pleaded guilty to malicious attempt to destroy a building with an explosive, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Authorities said that Pendley plotted to blow up an Amazon Web Services center in Ashburn, Va., about 30 miles outside of Washington, D.C.
He was arrested in April in Fort Worth after he attempted to purchase explosives from an undercover FBI agent posing as an explosives supplier.
Prosecutors said that Pendley admitted to disclosing his plans to a confidential source in January on the encrypted messaging app Signal.
A month later, he sent the source a list of data center addresses and said he hoped the attack could kill off “about 70% of the internet.” The source asked to help him obtain C4 explosives to use in the attack, to which Pendley responded “F---“ yeah,” prosecutors said.
The source introduced Pendley to the undercover agent in March. Pendley told the agent that he hoped to anger “the oligarchy” enough to convince the American people to rise up against a “dictatorship.”
During that same conversation, Pendley also boasted of his presence at the Capitol riot on Jan. 6. He said he didn’t enter the building, but came with an AR rifle that he left in his car.
When authorities searched Pendley’s home after he was arrested, they found an AR-15, a pistol painted to look like a toy gun, masks, wigs and notes of flashcards related to the planned attack.
Pendley is facing between five and 20 years in federal prison. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 1.
“We may never know how many tech workers’ lives were saved through this operation – and we’re grateful we never had to find out,” acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah said in a statement. “Bringing to justice domestic extremists remains one of the Department’s top priorities.”