Would-be AWS bomber pleads guilty, faces 5 to 20 years behind bars for plot to take out government servers

FBI reveals undercover employee sold him fake explosives before arrest

Seth Aaron Pendley, the 28-year-old Texas man accused of planning to blow up an Amazon Web Services data centre, admitted on Wednesday he planned to destroy a building with an explosive.

US prosecutors announced the guilty plea, and revealed that a concerned citizen tipped off the authorities to the bomb plot and introduced Pendley to an undercover FBI agent who claimed to be a vendor of explosives.

“In recorded conversations, Mr Pendley allegedly told the undercover employee he planned to attack web servers that he believed provided services to the FBI, CIA, and other federal agencies,” the Dept of Justice explained in a statement. In messages sent to the source who tipped off the Feds, Pendley said he hoped his planned attack would “kill off about 70 per cent of the internet.”

The undercover agent met Pendley on April 8 this year, and handed over inert explosive devices and trained Pendley in their use.

Pendley appears to have been convinced the devices were real, loaded them into his car right there and then, and was promptly arrested.

His home was then searched, and authorities found “an AR-15 receiver with a sawed-off barrel, a pistol painted to look like a toy gun, masks, wigs, and notes and flashcards related to the planned attack.”

Pendley faces between five and 20 years in prison.

“We may never know how many tech workers’ lives were saved through this operation — and we’re grateful we never had to find out,” said Acting US Attorney Prerak Shah. ®

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