BALTIMORE (WJZ/AP) — FBI officials say Antonio Martinez had every intention of taking American lives, but they supplied the fake bomb he’s accused of trying to detonate.
Kelly McPherson has the latest on the foiled bomb plot.
Baltimore’s bombing suspect lived in Woodlawn with his mother and siblings. They didn’t answer the door for WJZ.
Neighbors say they used to see Martinez—a naturalized U.S. citizen who goes by the name Muhammad Hussain—playing with his younger brother. He would wear Islamic clothing.
“They showed his picture on the news, and I said, ‘Oh, he looks familiar,’ and I didn’t know that it was the young man who lives across the street from us,” said neighbor Barbara Moore.
The Nicaraguan Baltimore man is now facing life in prison for attempting to use weapons of mass destruction to blow up a military recruiting center, Armed Forces Career Center, in Catonsville on Wednesday.
His Facebook page promotes extreme Islamic views and jihad. His decision to bomb the recruiting center was an act of war against the United States. Undercover FBI agents pretended to help him.
His mother spoke with the Associated Press saying she tried to persuade him not to convert to Islam and that she’s a “devout American” and is upset and embarrassed over her son’s actions.
Court documents quote Martinez talking about his mother: “She wants me to be like everybody else, being in school, working. For me it’s different. My wife understands. I told her when we first married. I told her I want to fight jihad, and she said she doesn’t want to stop me.”
He goes on to say, “Glad I’m not like everyone else my age, 21—going out, having fun, be in college and all that stuff. That’s not me. That’s not what Allah has in mind for me.”
There are questions about the tactics used to arrest Martinez since the FBI agents were pretending to plot the bombing over the past two months.
“We do not engage in tactics that entrap people, make them do things that they were otherwise not disposed to do,” said U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder.
The bomb Martinez is accused of trying to detonate was fake and had been provided by an undercover FBI agent. It was loaded into an SUV that Martinez parked in front of the Catonsville recruiting center, authorities said, and a FBI informant picked him up and drove him to a nearby vantage point where he tried to set it off.
“There was never any actual danger to the public during this operation,” U.S. Attorney Rod J. Rosenstein said Wednesday.
The affidavit suggests that he picked the spot on busy route 40 because he had been inside before. He told the undercover agent that prior to becoming a Muslim he was going to join the military.
It’s not clear when his views—clearly seen on Facebook—became so extreme.
“Each and every Muslim in this country knows that America is at war with Islam and they’re not doing anything about it,” Martinez said. “No one is stepping up to do anything. We have to be the ones to pull the trigger.”
Neighbors are shaken that they lived so close to a suspected terrorist.
“That’s scary, very scary because it took a kind of weird mind to think of doing something like that,” Moore said.
“I was shocked, very shocked,” said neighbor Tabitha Horn. “It’s a fairly quiet community. So you really never hear anything like this.”
Court documents also say that after the bombing, Martinez planned to build a camp in the woods to hide from authorities. Instead, he will be in court on Monday.
Though similar to a failed bomb plot in Oregon, the FBI says Martinez is not linked to that case or any other known terrorist.