Federal authorities have arrested a Baltimore man for attempting to detonate what he believed to be a car bomb at an army recruiting center in Catonsville, Maryland.
Antonio Martinez, 21, a naturalized U.S. citizen who recently converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Hussain, was arrested and charged on December 8, 2010, with attempting to murder federal officers and employees and attempting to use of a weapon of mass destruction. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.
The criminal complaint alleges that Martinez, a construction worker, approached an FBI confidential human source in October 2010 about his plan to attack and kill military personnel. During the conversations, Martinez expressed his desire to attack the American military because he perceived that the U.S. military is killing Muslims abroad. He then identified his target as the Armed Forces recruiting station in Catonsville, Maryland, according to the affidavit filed in this case. "Every soldier that we see in uniform will be killed on the spot, Insha' Allah ... They will be killed until they stop waging war against ... Islam," Martinez said.
Martinez told the undercover informant that he had previously been inside this military recruiting station, since he was about to join the military before he converted to Islam. He planned to use this inside information to his benefit, and go inside the center and "shoot everybody in the place." Later, he changed his plan with the undercover informant to detonate a car bomb outside of the station so that he wouldn't die during this operation and could then dedicate his whole life to the cause, according to the affidavit.
Over the next month and a half, Martinez attempted to recruit at least three other individuals to join the operation, but all of them declined. Two weeks before the planned attack, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, a naturalized American citizen from Somalia, was arrested for attempting to carry out a similar attack at an Oregon Christmas tree lighting ceremony. After the arrest, Martinez expressed concern, but in the end decided that he was "ready to move forward," according to the affidavit.
The FBI reportedly first learned of Martinez's radical ideology from his posts on his Facebook profile, which he created around the same time that he converted to Islam. "When are these crusaders gonna realize they cant win? How many more lives are they willing to sacrafice. ALLAHUAKBAR [sic]," he wrote as the first post to his Facebook profile in August 2010.
Communicating with an undercover informant on Facebook, Martinez expressed his desire to go to Pakistan or Afghanistan and said 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," according to the affidavit.
In addition to expressing his radical ideology on Facebook, Martinez was also radicalized, in part, by other Web sites and online videos, including videos of Osama bin Laden and other mujahideen, according to the affidavit. Martinez also visited the Web site of Revolution Muslim (RM), a New York-based fringe anti-Semitic Muslim organization that justifies terrorist attacks and other forms of violence against non-Muslims.
Martinez also conveyed to the undercover informant his admiration for Anwar al-Awlaki, an American-born Muslim cleric living in Yemen who has been designated by the U.S. as a "key leader" for Al Qaeda and encourages attacks against America and the West by propagating radical online lectures to English-speaking audiences. He also stated his esteem of al-Awlaki on his Facebook profile, saying "I love Sheikh Anwar al Awalki for the sake of ALLAH. A real insperation for the Ummah, I dont care if he is on the terrorist list! May ALLAH give him Kire amen [sic]."
Martinez also allegedly praised Nidal Malik Hasan, the alleged gunman that shot and killed 12 soldiers and one civilian at the Fort Hood army base in November 2009. There have been several other plots and attacks targeting the American military by extremists motivated by a radical interpretation of Islam over the past several years. In addition to Hasan, the other deadly attack was carried out in June 2009 by Abdulhakim Mujahid Muhammad, when he allegedly shot two uniformed American soldiers, killing one of them, at a military recruiting center in Little Rock, Arkansas.