* United States v. Martinez (D. Maryland) (Dec. 8, 2010) (would-be-bomber caught in a sting)
Well, this no doubt will contribute the burgeoning conversation about the pros and cons of sting operations. Complaint attached, press release excerpts follow below.
BALTIMORE – Antonio Martinez, aka Muhammad Hussain, age 21, of Baltimore, a U.S. citizen, was charged by criminal complaint today with attempting to murder federal officers and employees and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction against federal property, in connection with a scheme to attack an Armed Forces recruiting station in Catonsville, Maryland. Martinez was arrested this morning after he attempted to remotely detonate what he believed to be explosives in a vehicle parked in the Armed Forces recruiting station parking lot.
U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein stated, “First, there was no actual danger because the people Mr. Martinez asked to help carry out his attack actually were working with the FBI. Second, every person Mr. Martinez asked to join in his scheme either declined to participate, tried to talk him out of it or reported him to the FBI, and there is no evidence that Mr. Martinez received direction or support from any other person. Third, undercover investigations are pursued only when supervisory law enforcement agents and prosecutors conclude that there is a serious risk that cannot be ignored. I am grateful to the FBI for the care it takes to evaluate all credible allegations of terrorist threats and to investigate people who threaten violence.”
The affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint alleges that on Sept. 29, 2010, Martinez publicly posted on his Facebook account a statement calling for violence to stop the oppression of Muslims, and that on Oct. 1, 2010, he publicly posted a message stating that he hates any person who opposes Allah and his prophet.
On Oct. 8, 2010, an FBI confidential source (CS) brought these public postings to the attention of the FBI. The affidavit alleges that on Oct. 10, 2010, in response to these postings, the CS began communicating with Martinez through Facebook. The affidavit alleges that during Martinez’ discussions with the CS over Martinez’ Facebook page, 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 CS provided copies of the communications to the FBI.
After learning from the CS that Martinez was seeking to attack and kill military personnel, the FBI recorded a series of conversations between Martinez and the CS. During the conversations, Martinez identified his target as the Armed Forces recruiting station on Route 40 in Catonsville, Maryland.
The affidavit alleges that during the undercover operation, Martinez told the CS about five persons he believed would join in the operation. Martinez allegedly attempted to recruit at least three of those people to join in the operation, including an individual whom he said had the ability to obtain weapons. All three of them declined, and one of them expressly attempted to dissuade Martinez from committing jihad. Thereafter, Martinez allegedly agreed to meet the CS’s “Afghani brother,” an undercover FBI agent (UC), whom the CS represented would be interested in assisting in the operation. Martinez’ conversations with the UC were also recorded, and the FBI continuously monitored Martinez’ activities up to the time of his arrest.
On Nov. 4, 2010, Martinez introduced the CS to another person whom Martinez described as a potential recruit for his operation. The affidavit alleges that Martinez spoke to the person about his plans and the person refused to participate, telling Martinez that what he wanted to do was wrong ideologically, would cause harm to Muslims.
On Nov. 16, 2010, the CS introduced Martinez to the UC. Martinez allegedly told the UC about his goal to become a martyr and his desire to attack the Armed Forces recruiting center on Route 40 soon. According to the affidavit, the UC and the CS repeatedly asked Martinez if he was sure that this was the right path for him and told Martinez it was OK if he did not want to go through with the operation. Each time, the affidavit alleges that Martinez stated his intention to go forward with the plan.
The affidavit alleges that Martinez and the CS met again on Dec. 2 to look at the parking area around the recruiting center. Martinez allegedly drew a map detailing where the vehicle containing the bomb should be parked, which he gave to the CS for the UC. On Dec. 4, 2010, Martinez and the CS spoke over the phone. The CS told Martinez that he wanted to make sure that Martinez was not doing this because he felt “like someone pushing you.” Martinez replied, “I came to you about this, brother.”
According to the affidavit, on Dec. 7, 2010, Martinez met with the UC and CS to finalize plans for using a vehicle bomb to attack the Armed Services recruiting center. The UC allegedly showed Martinez the device that would activate the bomb and explained to him how to use it. The UC also showed Martinez the components for the bomb that were in the back of the SUV. According to the affidavit, Martinez pulled out his map of the recruiting center and told the UC where he believed it was best to park the SUV the next morning. It was agreed that all three men would drive separate vehicles, and the CS would pick up Martinez after the SUV was parked at the center. Martinez and the CHS would then drive to a vantage point where Martinez would detonate the bomb. The parties agreed that after the operation was over, they would not meet until Friday to arrange their getaway.
On the morning of Dec. 8, 2010, the affidavit alleges that Martinez met as planned with the UC and the CHS. Martinez was observed by surveillance agents inspecting the components of the bomb in the back of the SUV. It appeared that he was arming the device as instructed by the UC the day before. Martinez then drove the SUV to the recruiting center, parked in front of the building and left the area with the CS. Martinez and the CS drove to a vantage point near the recruiting center, where Martinez allegedly attempted to detonate the device, which was, in fact, an inert bomb. Martinez was immediately placed under arrest.
Martinez faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for attempting to murder federal officers and employees, and life in prison for attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction against federal property.