Seth Aaron Pendley, 28, was arrested Thursday after he attempted to obtain an explosive device from an undercover FBI agent, the Justice Department said. He is charged with a malicious attempt to destroy a building with an explosive.
Authorities said Pendley targeted an Amazon web service data center in Ashburn, Va., according to a criminal complaint. In conversations with a confidential source, Pendley said he planned to attack the servers and that his goal was to overthrow "the oligarchy" in the United States, authorities said.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a FOX Business request for comment.
Pendley came on the FBI's radar after a concerned citizen informed the agency on Jan. 8 about statements the Witchita Falls resident allegedly made on MyMilitia.com, a web forum used by militia groups to communicate and organize with each other.
"We are indebted to the concerned citizen who came forward to report the defendant’s alarming online rhetoric. In flagging his posts to the FBI, this individual may have saved the lives of a number of tech workers," Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah said in a statement.
Pendley allegedly posted under the username "Dionysus" and said he was going to "conduct a little experiment" that would "draw a lot of heat." When asked by another user what he desired, Dionysus allegedly replied with "death."
The tipster gave the FBI the user's email address, which was registered to Pendley, authorities said.
When investigators searched his Facebook page, they found that he boasted about being at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6, the day supporters of former President Trump stormed the building, resulting in five deaths. Hundreds have been arrested and charged for their alleged roles in the months since the riot.
In private messages, Pendley allegedly told friends he did not enter the Capitol, but instead, reached a "platform" and took a piece of glass from a broken window and interacted with police officers. He said he brought a sawed-off AR-style rifle to Washington D.C., but left it in his car when he went to the Capitol, the DOJ said.
In late January, Pendley allegedly began using Signal, an encrypted messaging app, to communicate with another source where he said he planned to use C-4 plastic explosives to attack data centers. He allegedly said he hoped a successful attack could "kill off about 70% of the internet."
On March 31, the source introduced Pendley to someone claiming to be an explosive supplier, who was in fact an FBI agent. During recorded conversations, Pendley said he planned to attack servers he believed provided services to the FBI, CIA and other federal agencies, prosecutors said.
In a statement to Fox News, an Amazon spokesperson said the company takes the safety of its staff and customer data "incredibly seriously."
"We would like to thank the FBI for their work in this investigation," the statement reads. "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."
Pendley allegedly met with an undercover FBI agent on Thursday for what he thought was to pick up explosive devices. He was unknowingly given inert devices, the prosecutors said. The agent showed him how to arm and detonate the devices and he was arrested shortly after loading them into his car.
During a search of his home, investigators found hand-drawn maps, notes, flashcards, wigs and masks related to the planned attack, authorities said. Also recovered was a pistol made to resemble a toy gun, paint cans and a machete with "Dionysus" on the blade, prosecutors said.
Pendley faces up to 20 years in prison. He made an initial court appearance Friday morning.