Fort Worth

Wichita Falls Man Pleads Guilty to Plans to Blow Up Virginia Data Center

Seth Aaron Pendley, 28, attempted to obtain explosives from an undercover FBI agent in Fort Worth

FBI seal
Yuri Gripas/AFP via Getty Images

A Wichita Falls man who plotted to blow up a data center in Virginia and attempt to "kill off 70% of the internet" pleaded guilty to charges Wednesday.

The Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Texas, Prerak Shah, announced Seth Aaron Pendley's guilty plea of a malicious attempt to destroy a building with an explosive in a press release.

According to court documents, the investigation of Pendley, 28, began after a tip about alarming statements posted on a far-right extremist website.

"We may never know how many tech workers' lives were saved through this operation - and we're grateful we never had to find out," Shah said in a press release. "Bringing to justice domestic extremists remains one of the (Justice) Department's top priorities."

In January, Pendley disclosed his plan to blow up a data center in Virginia to an unnamed source, according to court documents, and said he hoped a successful attack could "kill off 70% of the internet."

In late March, the unnamed source introduced Pendley, 28, to an undercover FBI employee who Pendley told he planned to attack the web servers.

"The main objective is to (expletive) up the Amazon servers," he said in a recorded conversation with the FBI agent.

In the same conversation, Pendley also claimed to be present at the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, although he said he did not enter the building.

On April 8, Pendley met with the undercover FBI employee in Fort Worth, according to court documents, to pick up what he believed to be explosive devices. Pendley was shown how to arm and detonate the devices, which were actually not explosive, and arrested when he loaded them into his car.

Pendley faces between five and 20 years in prison, and his sentencing hearing is set for Oct. 1.

The FBI's Dallas Field Office, Wichita Falls Resident Agency and FBI's North Texas Joint Terrorism Task Force co-conducted the investigation, according to a press release.

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