A Georgia man who sought to obtain an anti-tank missile pleaded guilty this week to plotting terrorist attacks on the White House, the Statue of Liberty and other landmarks, federal prosecutors said.
The man, Hasher Jallal Taheb, 23, of Cumming, Ga., faces up to 20 years in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of five years after accepting a plea agreement on Wednesday in United States District Court in Atlanta, the authorities said.
Mr. Taheb emerged as a suspect in March 2018, when local police received a tip from someone in his community saying that Mr. Taheb had become radicalized, changed his name and planned to travel abroad, the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.
When Mr. Taheb later advertised his vehicle for sale, an F.B.I. informant said he was interested in buying it. That is when Mr. Taheb revealed his plans to carry out terrorist attacks on targets that included the Washington Monument, the Lincoln Memorial and a synagogue in Washington, D.C., the authorities said.
The informant introduced Mr. Taheb to an undercover F.B.I. agent, to whom he showed a hand-drawn diagram of the West Wing of the White House, a criminal affidavit said. Federal agents said they arrested Mr. Taheb in January 2019 when he showed up in a store parking lot in Buford, Ga., to obtain an AT-4 anti-tank weapon, explosives and assault rifles.
“Taheb planned to conduct a terrorist attack on the White House as part of what he claimed was his obligation to engage in jihad,” John C. Demers, an assistant attorney general for national security, said in a statement on Wednesday. “And that was just one of the iconic American landmarks he wanted to target.”
Mr. Taheb pleaded guilty to attempted destruction of U.S. government property by fire or explosive, and he is scheduled to be sentenced on June 23, according to court filings.
His lawyers did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.
Mr. Taheb told the informant that he wanted to do as much damage as possible and that he expected to be a “martyr,” Tyler S. Krueger, an F.B.I. special agent, wrote in the criminal affidavit.
Mr. Taheb also told an undercover F.B.I. agent that he had created a channel on a video-sharing website to post clips before the attacks, the affidavit said. The videos included images of oppressed Muslims with American and Israeli flags being burned in the background.
Mr. Krueger wrote in the affidavit that Mr. Taheb discussed his plot to attack the White House in detail.
“Specifically, he described his plan to use the AT-4 to blow a hole in the White House so that the group could enter,” Mr. Krueger wrote.
F.B.I. officials said on Wednesday that tips from the public were crucial in thwarting the kinds of attacks that Mr. Taheb had been planning.