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Texas man wanted to blow up northern Virginia data center, federal officials say

Seth Aaron Pendley, 28, of Wichita Falls, is charged with attempting to destroy a building with an explosive, Shah said in a statement.

WASHINGTON — A Texas man was charged Friday with threatening to blow up an Amazon data center in Virginia in an effort to damage the internet and services he believed were used by federal agencies, according to acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah.

Seth Aaron Pendley, 28, of Wichita Falls, Texas, is charged with attempting to destroy a building with an explosive, Shah said in a statement.

Pendley is in custody, according to a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Justice, who did not know if he had an attorney who could speak for him.

In a complaint filed in federal court, FBI special agent John Coyle said a confidential source notified the FBI in January of threatening posts on social media by a user later identified as Presley.

A second confidential source later in January notified the FBI that Pendley had threatened to blow up Amazon Web Services data centers in Ashburn, Virginia, to “kill off about 70% of the of the internet.”

Data centers are a prominent part of northern Virginia due to the region's geographical location that brings internet data flowing to the commonwealth from all over the world.

The second source on Thursday introduced Pendley to an undercover FBI employee in March, saying the agent was an explosives provider.

“In recorded conversations, Mr. Pendley allegedly told the undercover (employee) he planned to attack web servers that he believed provided services to the FBI, CIA, and other federal agencies,” according to Shah's statement.

Pendley again met with the undercover agent on Thursday in Fort Worth to pick up what he believed to be explosive devices that were inert, according to Shah, and was arrested by FBI agents.

According to federal officials, Pendley bragged about being at the Jan. 6 Capitol insurrection that led to the death of multiple people, including a U.S. Capitol Police officer.

WUSA9 will continue to update this story as more information comes into our newsroom.

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