Man Arrested For Alleged Plot On Maryland Military Recruit Center
One person has been arrested in Maryland for allegedly plotting to blow up a military recruitment center, the Associated Press reports. It appears the arrest was part of a sting operation and that the public was not in any danger, NPR's Dina Temple-Raston says.
She reports that "surveillance of the young man began in October. That's when he allegedly struck up a conversation with an FBI source and said he wanted to attack U.S. military personnel. The FBI ended up providing an inert device that the suspect thought was a bomb for the attack."
The Baltimore Sun says:
"A spokeswoman for the U.S. Attorney's Office in Baltimore said the man attempted to detonate what he believed to be a vehicle bomb this morning.
" 'There was no danger to the public as the explosives were inert, and the suspect had been carefully monitored by law enforcement for months,' the office said in a statement."
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Update at 2:50 p.m. ET. Earlier, we passed along some excerpts from the criminal complaint filed in court against the suspect, 21-year-old Antonio Martinez. Now, here's a copy (forwarded to us by NPR's Carrie Johnson, who covers the Justice Department) that you can read for yourself. Just click on "fullscreen" to enlarge:
Update at 2:35 p.m. ET. The criminal complaint:
Baltimore's WBAL has a copy of the court filing posted here. In it, FBI Special Agent Keith Bender says that "Antonio Martinez, a/k/a Muhammad Hussain," attempted to use "a weapon of mass destruction."
He adds that "in October 2010, Antonio Martinez, a recent convert to Islam, struck up an association with a Baltimore FBI confidential human source. Upon learning from the CHS that Martinez was seeking to attack and kill military personnel, the FBI recorded a series of conversations between Martinez and the CHS."
Martinez, according to the affidavit, "identified his target -- an Armed Forces recruiting station on Route 40 in Catonsville, Maryland."
Over the next several weeks, according to the affidavit, the FBI recorded many conversations in which Martinez talked about attacking the recruiting center and met with people he hoped could help him in that effort. He was introduced to an undercover FBI agent.
Multiple meetings led to a plan that Martinez said he wanted to carry out -- the bombing of the recruitment center -- and to the undercover agent arranging to provide an SUV and a "bomb" that Martinez did not know was inert.
This morning, according to the affidavit:
"Martinez met as planned with the UC (undercover agent) and the CHS (confidential informant). ... Martinez was observed by surveillance agents inspecting the components of the bomb in the back of the SUV. It appeared he was arming the device as instructed by the UC the day before. Martinez then proceeded to drive the SUV, as planned, to the recruiting center, where he parked it in front of the building.
"Martinez exited the SUV and got into the CHS's vehicle, and they drove off to their vantage point not far from the recruiting center. The UC then called Martinez to advise him that he had observed soldiers in the recruiting center. At that time, Martinez attempted to detonate the device, which was, in fact, an inert bomb. He was immediately placed under arrest."
Update at 1:15 p.m. ET. More details from NPR's Dina Temple-Raston and others:
-- The suspect is a 21-year old Baltimore man named Antonio Martinez, who officials say recently converted to Islam. (Baltimore's WBAL adds that he "called himself Muhammed Hussain.")
-- Officials say that there was a concern that Martinez would reach out to terrorists overseas, so the FBI interceded in an effort to keep a lid on any unfolding attack.
-- Investigators do not believe this plot was linked in any way to recent drive-by shootings at military installations in the Washington area.
-- This is the second sting operation by the FBI in recent weeks. The day after Thanksgiving, a Somali-born teenager was arrested in Portland, Ore., after using a cellphone to try to detonate what he thought were explosives in a van. Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.