PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The Philadelphia District Attorney’s Office and the FBI on Monday announced the arrest of a 17-year-old Philadelphia resident on state charges in connection with an ongoing federal terrorism investigation.
Tthe FBI took the 17-year-old into custody on Friday, FBI Special Agent Jacqueline Maguire said. Officials didn’t identify the suspect.
The teen was charged with weapons of mass destruction, criminal conspiracy, arson, causing/risking catastrophe, attempt to commit criminal mischief, possession of an instrument of crime and recklessly endangering another person, the DA’s office said.
Philadelphia District Attorney Larry Krasner said he has every intention to try the 17-year-old as an adult. The U.S. Attorney is reviewing the case and hasn’t ruled out federal charges.
“The young man under arrest is, was, an aspiring terrorist,” Krasner said.
Maguire said the 17-year-old had communicated with Katibat al Tawhid wal Jihad, or KTJ, a designated global terrorism group by the U.S. government that is said to be in affiliation with Al Qaeda.
The 17-year-old was sending and receiving media containing terrorism propaganda and guidance on committing criminal acts, including how to construct a bomb, Maguire said.
According to officials, Customs and Border Protection records show 14 international shipments of military and tactical gear to the teen’s address.
FBI officials also said the suspect had access to a “significant number” of firearms and was gathering items that could be used to make an explosive. The suspect had purchased tactical equipment, wiring, chemicals and devices often used as remote detonators. Some of these purchases occurred within the past couple of weeks.
“It’s fair to say he’s not only purchased and obtained those materials and those items, but that he was taking steps to put them together and test devices,” Maguire said.
FBI leaders say the 17-year-old did “general research” on potential targets –not limited to the Philadelphia area– but nothing agents would deem specific.
According to the FBI, the suspect was taken into custody by FBI SWAT officers at his residence in the Wynnefield section of Philadelphia on Friday.
Krasner said the suspect “presented a grave danger to everyone, to himself, his family, the block where he lived. And frankly, people everywhere in Philadelphia and potentially people around the country and overseas.”
The FBI believed this was a situation where public safety was at risk so they acted quickly.
Krasner says there is no threat to the public at this time.
“Working in conjunction with the DA’s Office, a warrant was secured for the individual’s arrest and search warrants were obtained. This past Friday those warrants were executed,” Maguire said. “Individual taken into custody by SWAT Team Philadelphia FBI without incident.”