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Baltimore bomb plot suspect indicted

By the CNN Wire Staff
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Antonio Martinez is indicted on two federal criminal counts
  • He is accused of attempting to kill federal officers, set off weapon
  • Lawyer says his client is a victim of a "government sting operation"

Baltimore, Maryland (CNN) -- A 21-year-old Baltimore man was indicted by a federal grand jury Tuesday on charges of plotting to bomb a military recruiting station. His lawyer has argued federal authorities set him up in a sting operation.

Antonio Benjamin Martinez, a Muslim convert who goes by the name Muhammad Hussain, was arrested December 8 after attempting to detonate an inert device supplied to him by an undercover FBI agent, federal prosecutors said.

The indictment charges Martinez, who is custody, with attempting to kill federal officers and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against U.S. property. Rod Rosenstein, the U.S. attorney in Baltimore, said that Martinez could face up to life in prison if convicted on the second charge.

Martinez appeared last week before U.S. District Judge Susan Gauvey for a preliminary hearing.

At the December 13 hearing, defense lawyer Joseph Balter called the case "a government sting operation" that induced his client "to be involved in an act that was clearly the design of the government."

According to a federal agent's affidavit in the case, Martinez was upset by U.S. forces killing Muslims overseas and plotted to blow up the Armed Forces Career Center in the Baltimore suburb of Catonsville, Maryland.

Rosenstein said last week that there was no evidence that Martinez "was acting as a part of any larger group."

In court papers, federal agents stated that Martinez "struck up an association" with the FBI informant in October after posting a late September message on Facebook that vowed, "The sword is cumming (sic) the reign of oppression is about 2 cease."

The informant contacted Martinez over Facebook, and Martinez told him "that he wanted to go to Pakistan or Afghanistan (a country that struggle for the sake of Allah)," according to the affidavit. But later, Martinez began talking about attacking a military recruiting center, according to the affidavit.

"He indicated that if the military continued to kill their Muslim brothers and sisters, they would need to expand their operation by killing U.S. Army personnel where they live. He stated that jihad is not only in Afghanistan or Pakistan, but also in the United States," the affidavit stated.

The informer offered to introduce Martinez to an Afghan "brother" -- actually an undercover FBI agent -- who could help, the affidavit said.

Martinez attempted to detonate the fake bomb outside the recruiting center after the undercover agent reported seeing soldiers inside, according to the affidavit.

CNN's Kelly Marshall Smoot contributed to this report.