- Man pleads guilty to use of a weapon of mass destruction against federal property
- Antonio Martinez attempted to set off an inert device at a military recruiting center
- If court accepts the plea, Martinez will be sentenced to 25 years in prison
A Baltimore man pleaded guilty Thursday in connection with a plot to bomb a military recruiting station in retaliation for U.S. forces killing Muslims overseas, authorities said.
Antonio Benjamin Martinez, 22, a Muslim convert who also goes by the name Muhammad Hussain, pleaded guilty to use of a weapon of mass destruction against federal property in connection with the plot involving an Armed Forces Career Center in Catonsville, Maryland, the Justice Department said.
The guilty plea was part of a plea agreement with prosecutors, authorities said. If the court accepts the plea, Martinez will be sentenced to 25 years in prison. Sentencing is set for April 6.
Martinez was arrested in December 2010 after attempting to detonate an inert device supplied to him by an undercover FBI agent, authorities said.
According to the plea agreement, Martinez first raised the subject of attacking military targets with an FBI confidential source in October 2010.
During recorded conversations that followed with the source and later an undercover FBI agent, Martinez identified the recruiting station as a target and "spoke about his anger toward America, his belief that Muslims were being unjustly targeted and killed by the American military, and his desire to commit jihad to send a message that American soldiers would be killed unless the country stopped its 'war' against Islam," federal prosecutors said.
He also articulated his beliefs in postings on his Facebook page and in two Facebook chats with the source, the Justice Department said.
He attempted to recruit people to join in the plot, authorities said. All of them declined, and one attempted to dissuade him from it.
But Martinez agreed to meet the confidential source's "Afghani brother" -- the undercover FBI agent -- after the source told him the "brother" would be interested in helping. He told the agent that he wanted jihadist activities to be his "profession," authorities said.
On December 8, he met the source to drive to a public parking lot near the recruiting center and attempted to detonate the device. On the way, he had the source videotape him saying he would continue to fight "against the oppressors until those who waged war with Islam stopped their actions," the Justice Department said.
"Martinez admitted that the bomb was intended to kill military service members who worked in the building," authorities said.
"This is an example of another successful prosecution that resulted from outstanding partnerships between the Muslim community and law enforcement," said Richard McFeely, FBI special agent in charge, in a Justice Department statement. "As the threat from homegrown violent extremists remains high, the FBI and our police partners rely on a two-way flow of information with the Muslim community at large. Together we are working to stop those that have perverted the Islamic faith into something it is not."
Martinez's attorney argued in a December 2010 hearing that federal authorities set his client up in a sting operation.
But Rod Rosenstein, the U.S. attorney in Baltimore, said at the time federal authorities "don't initiate these investigations unless there is a credible allegation that the defendant himself (has) already expressed an intent to cause harm. And secondly, throughout the investigation, the FBI seeks to clarify the defendant's intent, challenging him, making certain that he's expressly told that he doesn't need to go forward with this."