A Wichita Falls man has been charged after allegedly planning to blow up an Amazon Web Services (AWS) datacenter in Virginia.
Seth Aaron Pendley, 28, was arrested last Thursday after procuring what he thought was an explosive device from an undercover FBI officer in Fort Worth.
He was charged with a malicious attempt to destroy a building with an explosive, after a concerned individual flagged “alarming” statements he made on a militia group forum under the pseudonym “Dionysus.”
The user had said they were planning “a little experiment” which could be “dangerous” and result in “death,” according to the Department of Justice (DoJ).
A source provided the FBI with the email address linked to Dionysus, which was Pendley’s. Investigators then found boasts on his Facebook account of him being at the Capitol riot on January 6.
According to the DoJ, Pendley told friends in private messages that he interacted with police at the building, although didn’t go in. A sawn-off rifle Pendley brought to Washington DC was apparently left behind in his car that day.
Later that month, Pendley is said to have used encrypted messaging app Signal to communicate with another FBI source who claimed he spoke of a plan to use C-4 explosives to “kill off about 70% of the internet.” He is said to have shown the source a handwritten list of addresses for AWS datacenters in Virginia.
His motives allegedly appear to have been to disrupt the government, intelligence and law enforcement agencies and the “oligarchy” running the country.
On March 31, the same source is said to have introduced Pendley to an FBI undercover agent posing as an explosives trader.
After picking up what were in fact fake explosives handed to him by the officer, Pendley is said to have put them in his car, after which time he was arrested.
If convicted, Pendley could face up to 20 years in prison.
An AWS spokesperson sent the following statement to Infosecurity: “We would like to thank the FBI for their work in this investigation. We take the safety and security of our staff and customer data incredibly seriously, and constantly review various vectors for any potential threats. We will continue to retain this vigilance about our employees and customers.”