Antonio Martinez, a 21-year-old from Baltimore who recently converted to Islam, went to his Facebook page on Sept. 29 and reportedly fired off a public posting calling for violence to stop the oppression of Muslims.
“The sword is cummin the reign of oppression is about 2 cease inshallah ta’ala YA muslimeen! don’t execept the free world we are slaves of the Most High and never forget it!” Martinez wrote, according to an FBI affidavit.Before long, an FBI source had reportedly tipped off the bureau and an undercover operation was underway, leading to the FBI sting that culminated Wednesday with Martinez’s arrest for allegedly trying to blow up a military recruitment center with help from agents posing as terrorists.
It all started on Oct. 8, when the FBI learned of Martinez’s Facebook posts. Two days later, the FBI’s source allegedly began talking with Martinez over Facebook. During the discussions with that source, the feds say that Martinez also wrote that he hoped Allah would open a door for him because all he could think about was jihad.
The FBI soon began recording conversations between Martinez and the confidential source. Martinez said he planned to target the Armed Forces recruiting station on Route 40 in Catonsville, Maryland during those conversations, according the FBI. Martinez also reportedly revealed to the confidential source that he had been to the military center he planned to attack before he became a Muslim.
Martinez, who has a criminal record, allegedly told the source he thought he could recruit five more people to join his operation. Three of those people declined and one expressly attempted to stop Martinez from committing jihad, said the FBI.
Here’s how one conversation went on Oct. 29, according to the affidavit:
Like I wish I knew how to make a car bomb … Did you see all those cars that they had out there [referring to the recruiting center] … As soon as they start the car [MARTINEZ makes a noise like something is blowing up and laughs] … If you stuff the exhaust with something, like a sock or something … the car … it’ll run, but … all the toxic fumes will come into the inside of the car … so if they start to drive … they will breath in all those fumes … and they gonna like slowly but surely die in the car … Just some ideas, you know what I’m saying?
During that conversation with a confidential source, Martinez — who went by the name Muhammad Hussain — allegedly referred to Anwar al-Awlaki as his “beloved sheikh.”
Martinez planned to hide out in the woods after setting off the car bomb according to an account of their Oct. 29 conversation in the FBI affidavit:
If we get away unharmed … not locked up … we’ll have to go some place. We can’t just go back to our houses … I was think’ that we set up some type of camp … somewhere in the woods … like … the Chechyan … they was fightin’ against the Russians … when they was in the woods they had built a masjid … maybe we could do somethin’ like that … we could take refuge in the masjid … If they come to the masjid, we’ll shoot ’em … shoot at ’em until we die … Just get the message across ’cause maybe by our actions, brothers will rise up, Insha’Allah … But it’s not just all up to me. You come up with some ideas, as well, because it’s not just me.
Martinez also agreed to meet with the confidential source’s “Afghani brother” — an undercover FBI agent. Those conversations were also recorded and the FBI continuously monitored Martinez’ activities up to the time of his arrest, they said. From a Justice Department press release:
On November 4, 2010, Martinez introduced the CS to another person whom Martinez described as a potential recruit for his operation. The affidavit alleges that Martinez spoke to the person about his plans and the person refused to participate, telling Martinez that what he wanted to do was wrong ideologically, would cause harm to Muslims.
On November 16, 2010, the CS introduced Martinez to the UC. Martinez allegedly told the UC about his goal to become a martyr and his desire to attack the Armed Forces recruiting center on Route 40 soon. According to the affidavit, the UC and the CS repeatedly asked Martinez if he was sure that this was the right path for him and told Martinez it was OK if he did not want to go through with the operation. Each time, the affidavit alleges that Martinez stated his intention to go forward with the plan.
Martinez allegedly told the undercover agent on Nov. 17:
I’m ready, man … it ain’t like you seein’ it on … the news … You gonna be there. You gonna hear the bomb go off. You gonna be, ah, shooting, gettin’ shot at. It’s gonna be real .. we gotta prepare our minds … and ask Allah … to give us the peace of mind and the heart and the courage to go … I’m excited, man.
When news emerged that FBI agents had arrested a Somali-born teen in Oregon as part of a sting operation on Nov. 27, Martinez told the informant, “I’m not falling for no B.S.,” according to the affidavit against him. But he nonetheless decided to move forward.
On Dec. 2, Martinez and the confidential source went to look at the parking lot area around the recruiting center, where Martinez allegedly drew a detailed map showing where the vehicle containing the bomb should be parked. And, on Dec. 4, the confidential source asked Martinez if he felt like he was being pushed to move forward. According to a DOJ press release, Martinez replied, “I came to you about this, brother.”
On Dec. 7, the FBI says Martinez met with the undercover agent and the cooperating source to finalize plans for using a vehicle bomb to attack the Armed Services recruiting center. According to a DOJ press release, the undercover agent gave Martinez a fake bomb, while Martinez picked the spot and, with the informant, the three men agreed Martinez would plant the bomb, the informant would be his getaway driver — and they would all meet on Friday to arrange their final getaway plan.
Then this morning, Martinez met with the undercover agent and the confidential source, according to the FBI, after which he allegedly “set” the fake bomb, left it at the recruiting center and drove away with the source. He was arrested after reportedly attempting to detonate the fake bomb.
Martinez now faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for both the attempted murder of federal officers and employees and life in prison for attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction against federal property.
Late update: Until it gets pulled down here is the Facebook account of Martinez, aka Muhammad Hussain.
Additional reporting by Alex Sciuto.