Federal agents arrested 28-year-old California native Matthew Aaron Llaneza on Friday after he allegedly attempted to detonate what he thought was a car bomb outside a Bank of America in Oakland, according to the FBI. Llaneza, a Taliban sympathizer, plotted to blame the attack on right-wing, anti-government groups in a bid to incite a “civil war.”
“Llaneza’s arrest was the culmination of an undercover operation during which he was closely monitored by the FBI’s South Bay Joint Terrorism Task Force. 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. Llaneza was charged this morning by criminal complaint with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction against property used in an activity that affects interstate or foreign commerce,” according to an FBI press release.
Prior to his arrest, Llaneza met with a man he thought was connected with the Taliban and the mujahidin in Afghanistan — though he was actually an undercover FBI agent. The terrorist suspect suggested carrying out an attack against a bank in the San Francisco Bay Area using a car bomb. He planned to carry out the false flag attack and make it appear as if “the responsible party was an umbrella organization for a loose collection of anti-government militias and their sympathizers.”
“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 FBI release states.
According to the criminal complaint, Llaneza drove the SUV that he thought was equipped with an explosive device and parked it beneath an overhang of the bank building and he “armed” the trigger divide, a cell phone. After retreating on foot to a safe location, he placed two calls to the trigger device attached to the fake bomb. Once it was clear that he intended to successfully carry out the attack, federal agents arrested him.
The original target was reportedly a Federal Reserve building, however, Llaneza decided against it due to the strong building security. Officials did not immediate reveal if there was a specific group that he hoped to blame for the terrorist act.
Llaneza appeared in federal court in Oakland on Friday morning. If convicted of plotting to carry out the terrorist attack, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
(H/T: Washington Examiner)