CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports the suspect was caught in an FBI sting. Another suspected case of homegrown terror, another U.S. citizen, plotting to blow up Americans.
CBSNews.com Report: Terror in the U.S.
Wednesday it was 21-year-old Antonio Martinez, also known as Muhammad Hussein, a recent convert to Islam. He was arrested by federal agents Wednesday morning after attempting to detonate a car bomb outside an armed forces recruiting center in Maryland. The bomb was a fake, supplied to him by FBI undercover agents.
"Because the FBI was controlling the weapons that were used, there was no actual danger to the public as a result of the operation," said U.S. attorney Rod J. Rosenstein.
In court papers, the government charged Martinez, a married construction worker, with "attempted murder of federal officers/employees," and "attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction."
Criminal Complaint against Antonio Martinez
According to an affidavit the government was tipped to Martinez back in October, recording numerous conversations he allegedly had with an informant as well as an undercover agent over two months. In one conversation, Martinez said, "[W]e blow one recruiting center up, then we hit another one, there's no more recruiting centers in Maryland."
As evidence the government also cites Facebook postings including, "[T]he sword is cummin (sic) the reign of oppression is about 2 cease..."
CBS News national security consultant Juan Zarate says, "We're likely to see more of these cases where the FBI is trying to get close to individuals who are expressing not only an intent but a real concrete desire to kill fellow citizens."
Wednesday's sting is the latest in a string of successful undercover operations by the government in the last two years. Last month in a carbon copy of this case 19-year-old Mohamed Osman Mohamud was arrested after his attempt to detonate a "fake" car bomb supplied to him by FBI agents right before a tree lighting ceremony in Portland, Ore.
Others include a 19-year-old after he attempted to blow up a Dallas office tower and four New York men apprehended for plotting to attack a New York synagogue in 2009.
Just last week U.S. attorney general Eric Holder defended these types of stings. "We are bound and determined to try and find those people and stop them in whichever way that we can," said Holder.
For those who criticize these cases as entrapment the government says it won't back off because these operations are protecting America. If convicted, Martinez would face life in prison.