Man Arrested in Recruiting Center Bomb Plot

Twenty-one-year-old Antonio Martinez, also known as Muhammad Hussein, was arrested by federal agents Wednesday, Dec. 8, 2010, after attempting to detonate a car bomb outside an armed forces recruiting center in Maryland.
CBS
Updated at 6:47 p.m. ET

A 21-year-old construction worker who had recently converted to Islam and told an FBI informant he thought about nothing but jihad was arrested Wednesday.

CBS News chief investigative correspondent Armen Keteyian reports the man is Antonio Martinez, also known as Muhammad Hussain. 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.

"There was never any actual danger to the public during this operation this morning," U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said Wednesday after a hearing in U.S. District Court in Baltimore. "That's because the FBI was controlling the situation."

Criminal Complaint against Antonio Martinez

Martinez appeared in court Wednesday afternoon and was ordered held until a hearing Monday.

According to court documents, he has been on the FBI's radar screen since October, when he told a confidential FBI source he wanted to attack and kill military personnel.

A law enforcement source told CBS News that he had been "mouthing off" to friends and "wanted to retaliate against the military for the wars," and when others heard about it, "they wanted nothing to do with it."

The case is similar to one in Portland, Ore., where authorities said they arrested a Somali-born teenager the day after Thanksgiving when he used a cell phone to try to detonate what he thought were explosives in a van. He intended to bomb a crowded downtown Christmas tree-lighting ceremony, but the people he had been communicating with about the plot were in fact FBI agents.

CBSNews.com Report: Terror in the U.S.

After that case became public, Martinez called the FBI source he had been working with on the Maryland bomb plot, according to court documents, which said he seemed worried about another person that source had introduced him to. The person was an undercover FBI agent.

"I'm not falling for no b.s.," court documents quote him as saying.

After meeting with the source, however, Martinez decided to continue with the plot, according to the court documents. On Wednesday he drove an SUV with the dummy bomb to the recruiting center and parked outside the building, authorities said. When he attempted to detonate the device, he was arrested.

During Wednesday's hearing, Martinez told the judge he could not afford an attorney. He said he works in construction, is married and understood the charges against him.

Asked to identify himself, he said he was Muhammad Hussain but confirmed Antonio Martinez is still his legal name.

CBS News' Kate Rydell, reporting from the courtroom, said that Martinez, from Nicaragua, is about 6 feet tall with curly unkempt black hair, a scruffy beard and was wearing a long white tunic.

Afterward, Joseph Balter, the public defender assigned to represent him, cautioned against a rush to judgment.

"It's very very early in this case," he said.

A spokeswoman from the U.S. Attorney's Office in Baltimore said there is no evidence this individual is tied to the recent shootings at military recruiting centersin the Washington, D.C. metro area.

Authorities did not say where Martinez was born or what prompted his conversion to Islam. According to court documents, he explained to the FBI informant that his mother did not approve of how he had chosen to live. His wife, he said, accepted his lifestyle.

"I told her I want to fight jihad (holy war) ... and she said she doesn't want to stop me," he said, adding that he was glad he was not like other people his age, going out or going to school. "That's not me ... that not what Allah has in mind for me."

Martinez lives in a working-class northwest Baltimore neighborhood in a tidy, three-story yellow house that's been divided into apartments. No one answered the door Wednesday afternoon.

The White House said Wednesday afternoon that President Barack Obama was informed about a Maryland bomb plot before a suspect's arrest and said the president was assured the public was not endangered.

White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said the arrest underscores the need for vigilance against terrorism and illustrates why the Obama administration is focused on addressing "domestic radicalization."