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Friday, February 08, 2013

The Feds allege this man wanted to bomb bank to spark a civil war



A San Jose man who purportedly wanted to spark a civil war in the U.S. was arrested by federal agents Friday after he allegedly attempted to detonate a car bomb at a bank in Oakland, the U.S. Attorney's Office said. 

Authorities arrested Matthew Aaron Llaneza, 28, for allegedly trying to bomb a Bank of America branch at 303 Hegenberger Road, federal prosecutors said. 

According to a press release, the arrest came as the result of an months-long undercover operation during which Llaneza was closely monitored by the Federal Bureau of Investigation's South Bay Joint Terrorism Task Force. 

The press release details a plot being executed by Llaneza and an undercover FBI agent to detonate a bomb in an SUV parked outside the targeted bank on Thursday night. 

Unbeknownst to Llaneza, the explosive device that he allegedly attempted to use had been rendered inoperable by law enforcement and posed no threat to the public. 

According to the affidavit filed in support of the criminal complaint, on Nov. 30, 2012, Llaneza met with a man who led him to believe he was connected with the Taliban and the mujahidin in Afghanistan. In reality, the man was an undercover FBI agent. 

At the initial meeting, Llaneza proposed conducting a car-bomb attack against a bank in the Bay Area. The attack would appear to have been carried out by an umbrella organization for a loose collection of anti-government militias and their sympathizers. According to the affidavit, Llaneza's stated goal was to trigger a governmental crackdown, which he expected would trigger a right-wing counter-response against the government followed by, he hoped, civil war. 

The complaint details how Llaneza and the undercover agent constructed the purported explosive device inside an SUV held at a storage facility in Hayward. 

As part of the process of assembling the device, Llaneza purchased two cellphones to be used in creating and operating the trigger device for the car bomb. One of these cellphones was incorporated into the trigger device itself. The other was reserved for use on the night of the attack. 

The criminal complaint alleges that on Thursday evening, Llaneza drove the SUV containing the purported explosive device to the target bank branch in Oakland. He parked the SUV beneath an overhang of the bank building where he armed the trigger device. 

Llaneza then proceeded on foot to a nearby location a safe distance from the bank building, where he met the undercover agent. Once there, Llaneza attempted to detonate the bomb by using the second cellphone he had purchased to place two calls to the trigger device attached to the car bomb. Federal agents then arrested him. 

Llaneza made his initial appearance in federal court in Oakland Friday morning before United States Magistrate Judge Donna M. Ryu. The case is being prosecuted by the Special Prosecutions and National Security Unit of the United States Attorney's Office for the Northern District of California. 

The investigation was a joint operation carried out by the FBI's San Jose Resident Agency, with the assistance of the FBI San Francisco Joint Terrorism Task Force, the California Highway Patrol, the San Jose Police Department, the Oakland Police Department, the Hayward Police Department and the Union City Police Department. 

The defendant is scheduled to appear on Feb. 13 for a bail hearing before Judge Ryu. If convicted on the charge contained in the criminal complaint, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
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