A Wichita Falls, Texas, man who says he attended the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol now faces up to 20 years in federal prison after admitting he tried to purchase explosives to blow up a data center in northern Virginia, which he hoped would “kill off about 70% of the internet.”
Seth Aaron Pendley, 28, pleaded guilty Wednesday on a charge of malicious attempt to destroy a building with an explosive.
Pendley was arrested in April after he agreed to purchase C4 explosives from an undercover FBI employee, according to the Justice Department.
Pendley planned to disguise his vehicle to enter the secure facility, which he believed had servers connected to federal agencies, including the FBI and the CIA.
In a recorded conversation, Pendley said “the main objective is to f*** up the Amazon servers,” and though the Justice Department did not directly identify the facility, multiple reports after Pendley’s arrest identified Amazon as the target.
Pendley said he hoped the attack would somehow convince the American people to revolt against what he called a “dictatorship.”
“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. “Bringing to justice domestic extremists remains one of the Department’s top priorities.”
According to the Justice Department, the investigation started on Jan. 8, after investigators were tipped off about “alarming statements” being made on MyMilitia.com, a website for organizing militia groups. The comments came two days after Pendley said he attended the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riot, and Pendley’s Facebook account “showed that he had boasted about being at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6,” according to the DOJ. Pendley sent messages to friends saying he did not go inside of the Capitol building itself, but stole broken glass from a window and brought a sawed-off AR rifle with him, which he left in his car. A search of Pendley’s Texas residence uncovered an “AR-15 receiver with a sawed off barrel,” along with items like “masks, wigs, and notes and flashcards related to the planned attack,” prosecutors said.
Pendley has not faced any charges related to his actions on Jan. 6, but more than 450 people have now been arrested and charged. Prosecutors in January said around 800 people could ultimately be charged.
Man Who Boasted He Was at Capitol Riot Is Charged in Bomb Plot (The New York Times)