December 15, 2010
A Virginia man accused of threatening on Facebook to detonate pipe bombs on the D.C. subway system was ordered Tuesday to undergo a mental evaluation.
Awais Younis, a native of Afghanistan, was arrested last week and charged with communicating threats across state lines. Younis, 25, who lives in Arlington, described to a friend last month during a Facebook chat how he could build a pipe bomb with specific types of shrapnel to cause maximum damage on the Metro system, according to a sworn statement from an FBI agent. He also discussed planting pipe bombs underneath a sewer head in D.C.'s Georgetown neighborhood.
When the friend suggested he was not serious, Younis responded
The friend alerted the FBI. In a subsequent Facebook chat, Younis threatened the unidentified tipster and told her that "the problem with Americans they cant leave well enough alone until something happens then they sit there wondering why we dropped the twin towers like a bad habit."
Authorities arrested Younis, who also used the name Sundullah "Sunny" Ghilzai, on Dec. 7, two days after the second chat. The arrest was first reported by The Washington Examiner.
Younis' attorney, federal public defender Todd Richman, declined comment Tuesday.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Ivan Davis has ordered Younis remain jailed pending a mental health evaluation. Another hearing is scheduled for Dec. 21.
The case against Younis differs from the recent arrest of Farooque Ahmed, who was charged in October with conspiring with people he thought were al-Qaida members to bomb the D.C. Metro system. In the Ahmed case, prosecutors brought terrorism charges against Ahmed after a monthslong investigation in which Ahmed met with undercover operatives to advance what he thought was an al-Qaida plot.
Younis was not charged under terrorism statutes and never conspired with undercover operatives.
Justice Department spokesman Dean Boyd said in a statement that Younis has not been charged with any federal terrorism violation.
"The public should be reassured that his activities prior to his arrest were carefully monitored and that there is no threat against Metrorail or the general public in the Washington, D.C. area," he said.