Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Man arrested in Md. terror bomb plot

By Maria Glod
The Washington Post
Posted at 3:04 PM ET, 12/ 8/2010

A Baltimore man who is a recent convert to Islam has been charged with plotting to blow up a military recruiting office in Catonsville, Md., authorities said Wednesday, but the bomb was a fake provided by the FBI.

Antonio Martinez, 21, who changed his name to Muhammad Hussein when he converted, was charged with the attempted murder of federal employees and the attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. property. He faces life in prison if convicted.

Martinez was arrested Wednesday morning after he tried to remotely detonate what he believed to be explosives in a vehicle parked in the Armed Forces recruiting station parking lot, federal authorities said.

According to an FBI affidavit filed in federal court in Baltimore, Martinez wanted to fight jihad in the United States and specifically targeted the U.S. military because they were killing Muslims overseas.

He came to the FBI's attention through public postings on his Facebook page, the affidavit said.

He posted statements calling for violence to stop the oppression of Muslims. On Oct. 8, a person identified as a confidential source told the FBI about the postings.

That began a series of recordedconversations that would eventually include an undercover FBI agent whom Martinez thought was from Afghanistan and would help him make a vehicle bomb and teach him how to detonate it.

But the operation began with the FBI operative responding on Facebook to the calls for violence. In the Facebook communications, Martinez wrote that he wanted to go to Pakistan or Afghanistan, that it was his dream to be among the ranks of the mujahideen, and that he hoped Allah would open a door for him because all he thinks about is jihad.

The FBI then recorded a series of conversations between Martinez and the confidential operative. Martinez said he wanted to target the Armed Forces recruiting station on Route 40 in Catonsville.

The affidavit said Martinez tried to recruit at least three others into the operation, but they all declined. One even tried to talk Martinez out of the plot. When he couldn't get others to join, the confidential operative offered to introduce him to his "Afghani brother," who would help, the affidavit said.

That man actually was an undercover FBI agent, who suggested he could help Martinez make a vehicle bomb.

The plot came together, and on Wednesday, Martinez, the agent and the confidential informant drove to the recruiting station separately, the affidavit said. Martinez decided where to park the vehicle, inspected the fake bomb and tried to detonate it before he was arrested, the affidavit says.

The court papers describe a young man obsessed with jihad and fighting the U.S. military here and abroad. He is described as watching videos of Osama bin Laden and calls Anwar al-Aulaqi his "beloved sheikh." Aulaqi is on a terror watch list and was the spiritual inspiration behind the attempted bombing of a jetliner over Detroit and the shooting at Fort Hood that killed 13 people.

In fact, the affidavit says that Martinez referenced that attack, saying that killing those soldiers prevented them from killing Muslims overseas.

During a brief court hearing in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Martinez said he is married and works in construction.

Magistrate James K. Bredar asked Martinez to identify himself.

"My name is Muhammed Hussain," Martinez said.

The judge pressed, asking if he also goes by Antonio Martinez.

"That is my other name that I was born with," Martinez said.

He was ordered held pending a Dec. 13 detention hearing.

Officials said the plot is unrelated to incidents in October and early November in which someone shot at the Pentagon, two military recruiting stations and the Marine Corps Museum, all in Northern Virginia.


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