BULLETIN: Man Arrested In Alleged Plot To Detonate Car Bomb At Military-Recruitment Center In Maryland; Second Such Plot In United States Since Thanksgiving

BULLETIN: UPDATED 4:03 P.M. ET (U.S.A.): A man has been arrested in a plot to detonate a car bomb at a military recruitment center in Maryland. The alleged plot was intercepted by the FBI.

In court documents, the FBI identified the man as Antonio Martinez, also known as Muhammad Hussain. He was charged with attempted murder of federal officers/employees and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction against property owned or leased by the United States.

Martinez potentially faces life in prison, if convicted.

“[T]here was no actual danger because the people Mr. Martinez asked to help carry out his attack actually were working with the FBI,” said U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein of the District of Maryland.

An FBI agent said in charging documents that Martinez was a “recent convert” to Islam. The plot was intercepted by the FBI in October, according to the documents.

Martinez, 21, sought to recruit three other people to launch an attack against a military-recruiting station in Catonsville, Md., according to the documents. Catonsville is near Baltimore. The plot was presaged by posts on Facebook by Martinez.

In the early stages of the plot, Martinez talked about acquiring weapons and using gasoline and propane in an attack, according to the documents. As the plot developed, Martinez spoke of stationing himself on the roof, going inside, waiting for military personnel to arrive, and then shooting “everybody in the place” with the aid of an accomplice and burning down the building to “instill fear.”

Martinez also speculated about stuffing the exhaust systems of cars with socks, which he believed could be a way to kill drivers by making deadly fumes back up into passenger compartments.

“Just some ideas,” he was quoted as saying. “You know what I’m saying?”

Later, Martinez speculated about throwing cocktail bombs into the recruiting station and shooting people as they ran out, according to the documents. He also speculated about blowing up Andrews Air Force Base.

By mid-November, the focus shifted to detonating a car bomb at the recruitment center, according to the documents.

Martinez had multiple opportunities to back away from the plot, but chose to move forward, according to the documents. He attempted to detonate the bomb earlier today, but it had been engineered by the FBI to be inert.

A similar plot in Portland, Ore., was exposed on the day after Thanksgiving by the FBI last month. The agency had arranged a sting in the Portland case.

Martinez became aware of the Portland sting operation after the fact, fretted that he was being set up —  but still decided to carry out his plot, according to the documents. He found out today that, like the Portland suspect, he, too, had been targeted in a sting and had been under constant surveillance by the FBI.

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