“How do we feel about an Intel run around the Capitol tonight?” Associate 1 wrote, adding that a light police presence there was a “good opportunity to expose weaknesses.” According to court papers, Mr. Duong agreed it was good time to go but suggested having “a legitimate reason.”
“Visit a restaurant or something,” he wrote. “Get something cheap. Walk around a bit.”
By April, prosecutors say, new people attended the militia group meetings, including someone whom Mr. Duong described as his “three percenter contact.” The Three Percenters are far-right extremists whose radical views tend to focus on gun rights. Last month, federal prosecutors charged six men, including two political operatives, with ties to the movement in Southern California.
Prosecutors acknowledge that Mr. Duong was not a formal member of the Three Percenter movement but said in their complaint that he had often expressed his willingness to engage in violence “against groups that shared different views than his own.”
In March, for instance, he sent a message on his group’s encrypted platform with a news article about vandalism stemming from a Black Lives Matter protest, adding, “Make sure your rifles are zeroed.” Responding to a conversation about more stringent U.S. gun laws, he wrote, “The consequences will be tremendous, potentially the spark to kick off the next hot civil conflict.”
According to the complaint, the F.B.I. agent first discovered Mr. Duong’s interest in incendiary devices toward the end of May when he arrived for another meeting at Mr. Duong’s house and saw five cardboard boxes containing about 50 glass bottles in the driveway. Court papers say that Mr. Duong and others at the meeting talked about making Molotov cocktails and homemade bombs with a form of tear gas and the heating packets from packaged military meals. A few days later, when the F.B.I. agent asked Mr. Duong how he could get some Molotov cocktails, Mr. Duong replied that they would have to test them first — something that he could not do in his own backyard in Alexandria.
It was a few weeks later, court papers say, when Mr. Duong followed the F.B.I. agent to a 7-Eleven store on a quiet street in Lorton. From there, they drove to the prison, prosecutors say, where the second agent joined them and Mr. Duong approved the place as a testing site.
“We’re not at a point where people are out in the street rioting,” Mr. Duong told the two men, who were secretly recording him. But then he quickly added, “It’s coming soon.”
“I’d give it another six weeks,” he said. “Whatever supplies you can get now, get ’em now.”