A Wichita Falls man who allegedly plotted to blow up a data center in Virginia has been charged with a malicious attempt to destroy a building with an explosive.
Seth Aaron Pendley, 28, was arrested on Thursday after allegedly attempting to obtain an explosive device from an undercover FBI employee in Fort Worth.
According to the complaint, the investigation began after a concerned citizen contacted the FBI on Jan. 8 about alarming statements posted on MyMilitia.com, a forum dedicated to organizing militia groups.
Officials say a user who went by the screenname “Dionysus” stated he was planning to “conduct a little experiment,” which he said would “draw a lot of heat” and could be “dangerous.” When another user asked what outcome Dionysus desired, he responded, “death.”
A confidential source provided the FBI with the user’s email address, which was registered to Pendley. The FBI did a search of the defendant’s Facebook account showed that he had boasted about being at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6.
In private messages, he allegedly told friends that although he did not actually enter the Capitol building, he did reach the “platform,” where he swiped a piece of glass from a broken window and interacted with police. He said he brought a sawed-off AR rifle to D.C. but left the weapon in his car during his movement to the Capitol.
In late January, the confidential source informed the FBI that Pendly had begun using the encrypted messaging app, Signal. The source states that Pendley allegedly stated that he planned to use C-4 plastic explosives to blow up data centers to “kill off about 70% of the internet.”
On March 31, the sting to arrest Pedley began. The source introduced Pedley to an undercover FBI employee and was told that he was an explosives supplier.
In recorded conversations between Pendley and the undercover, Pendly confessed that he planned to attack web servers that he believed provided services to the FBI, CIA, and other federal agencies. He said he hoped to bring down “the oligarchy” currently in power in the United States.
On April 8, Pendley met with the undercover FBI employee to pick up what he believed to be explosive devices. The undercover actually provided his devices that were not operable. Once the dummy explosives were loaded in his car, Pendley drove off, only to be stopped by the FBI agents who were monitoring the exchange, and he was taken into custody.
If convicted, he faces up to 20 years in federal prison.