A Baltimore man angry about American policy toward Muslims pleaded guilty on Thursday as part of a plot to bomb a U.S. military recruitment centre in Maryland and faces a 25-year prison sentence, the Justice Department said.
It said Antonio Martinez, also known as Muhammad Hussain, pleaded guilty as part of a deal with prosecutors to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction, a car bomb, in what had been an FBI sting operation.
Martinez admitted in court that the bomb was intended to kill military service members who worked in the building in Catonsville, Maryland. But agents investigating him made sure the bomb was inert and there never was danger to the public.
Martinez was arrested in December of 2010. As part of his plea agreement, Martinez admitted that he talked about attacking military targets with an FBI confidential source, according to court documents.
In recorded conversations with the source and an FBI undercover agent, Martinez spoke about his anger toward America, his belief that Muslims were being unjustly killed by the U.S. military and his desire to send a message that soldiers would be killed unless the United States stopped its war against Islam.
Martinez had recently converted to Islam. Several people he initially attempted to recruit to join in the operation all declined and one of them attempted to persuade him to drop the idea, the Justice Department said.
It said Martinez then met with the source's Afghani brother, who was really an undercover FBI agent. Before and during the investigation, Martinez stated his militant beliefs on his Facebook page, according to court documents.
The arrest of Martinez was one of a series of FBI sting operations involving terrorism plots. Around the same time, an Oregon man was arrested on charges he tried to detonate a car bomb near a Christmas tree lighting ceremony in Portland.
Martinez, 22, faces sentencing on April 8 in federal court in Baltimore. Both prosecutors and the defence have agreed as part of the deal that a 25-year prison sentence would be appropriate.
(Reporting By James Vicini; Editing by Vicki Allen)