Federal and local law enforcement officials announced last Monday that they had thwarted a possible terror attack by a 17-year-old Islamic extremist in Philadelphia who had been radicalized online and purchased enough materials to build a bomb, NBC News reported.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner’s office said the 17-year-old, who was arrested on August 11, has been charged with criminal conspiracy, possessing weapons of mass destruction, causing/risking a catastrophe, arson, attempting to commit criminal mischief, recklessly endangering others, and possession of an instrument of crime.
The unnamed suspect, who is Muslim, had been purchasing bombmaking materials online, including chemicals, wiring, tactical equipment, and devices used as remote detonators, and had already started looking for possible targets, according to a law enforcement official.
The official told NBC News that District Attorney Krasner’s office will seek to try the 17-year-old as an adult but the case will not be tried in federal court due to the suspect’s age.
The official said there is no evidence that members of the boy’s family were involved in the plot or that they were even aware of it.
In announcing the charges last Monday, Special Agent in Charge Jacqueline Maguire of the FBI’s Philadelphia field office said the teen had access to a “significant” arsenal of firearms and had purchased materials needed to construct an improvised explosive device which he had already started to assemble.
Special Agent Maguire said the suspect had also done “general research” into specific potential targets both in the Philadelphia area and elsewhere.
According to Maguire, the unnamed suspect landed on the FBI’s radar after he began communicating with Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad, a terror group affiliated with al Qaeda that has been designated a foreign terrorist organization by the US.
The FBI identified the suspect and for several weeks conducted an investigation that included surveillance, ABC News reported.