OAKLAND (CBS SF) – A federal terrorism task force arrested a man they said intended to detonate a car bomb in front of an Oakland bank in the hopes of sparking a civil war by making the bomb blast appear to be the work of anti-government “militias.”
Prosecutors on Friday charged 28-year-old Matthew Aaron Llaneza, of San Jose, with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction against property used in an activity that affects interstate or foreign commerce, for allegedly trying to bomb the Bank of America branch at 303 Hegenberger Road in Oakland.
Llaneza made his initial appearance in federal court in Oakland without entering a plea and remained in custody; he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.
The FBI’s South Bay Joint Terrorism Task Force said it had been tracking Llaneza for months and agents arrested him Thursday night as he stood nearby the bank and tried to set off an explosive rigged in an SUV in front of the building with a cellphone detonator.
What Llaneza didn’t realize was that the purported bomb had already been rendered inoperable by an undercover federal agent, posing as a Taliban sympathizer, who worked alongside him during the plot, prosecutors said.
Authorities indicated that Llaneza expressed support for the Taliban and had hoped the bombing would be blamed on anti-government activists and would somehow spark a civil war after a severe government crackdown. The FBI said Llaneza also expressed a desire to travel to Afghanistan to train Taliban fighters.