The FBI arrested a Baltimore man Wednesday after he allegedly tried to detonate a phony bomb at a military recruitment center in Maryland, authorities told NPR.
A 21-year-old Muslim convert named Antonio Martinez, of Baltimore, was taken into custody this morning shortly after he allegedly tried to detonate the phony bomb at an armed forces recruiting station in Catonsville, Md., west of Baltimore. Officials close to the case say Martinez was caught in a sting operation.
Authorities started tracking Martinez in October when he allegedly approached an FBI informant and said he wanted to attack a U.S. military target. Officials say Martinez decided on the target and got what he thought was a bomb from the FBI.
"There was no actual danger to the public as the explosives were inert and the suspect had been carefully monitored by law enforcement for months," the U.S. Attorney's Office in Maryland said in a statement.
Officials say that there was a concern Martinez would reach out to terrorists overseas, so the FBI interceded in an effort to keep a lid on any unfolding attack. Officials close to the case say Martinez tried to enlist others in the plot, but they refused. Those efforts are allegedly recorded by law enforcement.
Martinez appeared in court Wednesday afternoon and was ordered held in custody until a hearing scheduled for Monday. Officials told NPR that they did not believe this plot was linked in any way to recent drive-by shootings at military installations in the Washington area.
The Martinez case is the second sting operation by the FBI in as many weeks. The day after Thanksgiving, a Somali-born teenager was arrested in Portland, Ore., after using a cell phone to try to detonate what he thought were explosives in a van. He allegedly thought he was going to bomb a crowded downtown Christmas tree-lighting ceremony. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges. His lawyer says he was entrapped.