LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – A U.S. fight veteran of the conflict in Afghanistan who prosecutors say plotted to detonate a number of nail bombs at a Los Angeles-area white nationalist rally, in search of to trigger mass casualties, was arrested in an FBI sting operation, federal prosecutors stated on Monday.
Mark Steven Domingo, 26, a U.S. Army infantryman who not too long ago transformed to Islam, was taken into custody on Friday after undercover FBI operatives furnished him with what he thought have been reside bombs to be used within the assault, legislation enforcement officers stated.
Authorities stated Domingo, who had no prior legal document, got here to their consideration due to a collection of violent extremist messages he posted in on-line chat rooms, one in every of which known as for “retribution” for the bloodbath of 50 individuals at mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, by a gunman in March.
“Often we are asked what keeps us up at night. This is a case that keeps us up at night,” Ryan Young, particular agent in command of the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, informed a information convention in Los Angeles.
Domingo, who had bought a number of hundred lengthy nails to function shrapnel within the home made pressure-cooker bombs, had additionally advised assaults on Jews, law enforcement officials, church buildings, a army facility, Southern California freeways and the Santa Monica Pier throughout web conversations with the FBI operatives, Young stated.
He was charged in a federal legal grievance with offering materials help to terrorists and was ordered held with out bond throughout a short preliminary look in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles on Monday.
“This investigation successfully disrupted a very real threat posed by a trained combat soldier who repeatedly stated he wanted to cause the maximum number of casualties,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna stated in a press release.
According to the legal grievance, an FBI operative established contact with Domingo in a non-public on-line chat room in March, main to discussions during which Domingo expressed help for Islamic militants and the will to search revenge for assaults on Muslims.
In one in every of his earliest posts, he advised that “America needs another Vegas event,” an obvious reference to the 2017 mass taking pictures at a rustic music live performance in Las Vegas the place a lone gunman perched in a close-by lodge killed 58 individuals and wounded tons of, the grievance alleged.
Domingo, who stated he needed to grow to be a martyr, additionally made reference to the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing, in accordance to the grievance. During one assembly in individual with an FBI operative, he arrived carrying an AK 47-style assault rifle, telling the informant: “I just wanted to show you that I’m serious.”
According to a legislation enforcement database, Domingo is the registered proprietor of three semi-automatic rifles. An FBI spokeswoman stated acquired a less-than-honorable discharge from the Army.
Prosecutors say Domingo contemplated drive-by shootings and detonating a bomb on the Santa Monica pier earlier than deciding to bomb a rally scheduled for Sunday, April 28, within the Los Angeles suburb of Long Beach that he believed was organized by white nationalists.
Domingo and two FBI informants visited the deliberate website of the rally to scout the very best location to place explosives to trigger the best casualties, authorities stated, agreeing that they would depart the scene individually to throw off suspicion. He as arrested shortly after inserting one of many mock bombs into the automobile of an informant.
The white nationalist rally ended up not taking place, though plenty of counterdemonstrators assembled on the website, the Los Angeles City News Service stated.
The announcement of Domingo’s arrest got here two days after a gunman opened fireplace in a San Diego-area synagogue, killing one lady and wounding three others, together with the rabbi. John Earnest, 19, was arrested.
There was no indication the 2 incidents have been related.
Reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Steve Gorman; modifying by Tom Brown, Lisa Shumaker and Sonya Hepinstall
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