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Texas man who wanted to blow up Amazon data center sentenced to 10 years

Seth Aaron Pendley, who claimed he went to the Jan. 6 riot with a gun in his car, said he hoped the attack would provoke the government into an overreaction.
Image:; Amazon's data center in Ashburn, Va.
Amazon's data center in Ashburn, Va.Michael Kosnar / NBC News

A Texas man who wanted to blow up an Amazon data center to disrupt the internet and upset "the oligarchy" was sentenced to 10 years in prison Friday, federal prosecutors said.

The attempted attack in Virginia never occurred, and Seth Aaron Pendley, 28, was communicating with an undercover FBI agent instead of an explosives supplier, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Texas said.

Pendley, of Wichita Falls, was arrested in April. He pleaded guilty in June to one count of malicious attempt to destroy a building with an explosive.

"As this case shows, radicals are lurking on the internet, looking for ways to lash out — and far too often, they move their plans off of the web and into the real world," Acting U.S. Attorney Prerak Shah said in a statement.

A federal public defender listed as representing Pendley did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday night.

The FBI was tipped off in January that Pendley was posting on a forum popular with militia groups about violence and the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol, according to court documents.

Pendley later told someone on an encrypted messaging app that he planned to use plastic explosives to attack Amazon Web Services data centers “to kill about 70% of the internet," the documents say.

Pendley thought the data center served the FBI, CIA and other agencies. The goal, he said, was that the U.S. government would overreact and be shown to be a "dictatorship," Pendley admitted in court papers.

He also claimed he went to the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., with a sawed-off AR-style rifle but left the gun in his car. He said he did not go into the building as the mob of Trump supporters ransacked it, the documents say.

Pendley was arrested April 8 in Fort Worth after he picked up what he thought were devices with C-4 explosives and was shown how to arm them, officials said.