An Army veteran who converted to Islam and plotted to carry out a bombing in retaliation for attacks last month on mosques in New Zealand has been arrested in Southern California, authorities said Monday.
Mark Stevens Domingo, 26, was arrested Friday after he accepted a package that he believed was a live homemade explosive, the Justice Department said. The package was actually an inert explosive device delivered by an undercover law enforcement officer.
“This is a case in which law enforcement was able to identify a man consumed with hate and bent on mass murder, and stop him before he could carry out his attack,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna said Monday during a news conference in Los Angeles. “The criminal case outlines a chilling terrorism plot that developed over the past two months and targeted innocent Americans that he expected to gather this past weekend.”
Mr. Domingo was charged with providing and attempting to provide material support to terrorists. He was expected to make an initial appearance Monday afternoon in a federal court.
If convicted, he would face a minimum sentence of 15 years in federal prison.
Authorities said Mr. Domingo had planned to explode the device Sunday with the intention of causing “mass casualties” inspired by past terror attacks.
According to a criminal complaint filed Saturday by federal prosecutors, Mr. Domingo had posted an online video professing his Muslim faith on March 2.
In another post the next day, he said “America needs another Vegas event” that would give “them a taste of the terror they gladly spread all over the world,” referring to the October 2017 massacre in Las Vegas in which a lone gunman killed 58 people and wounded hundreds of others.
After the March 15 shootings at two mosques in which 50 people were killed in Christchurch, New Zealand, Mr. Domingo posted, “there must be retribution.”
U.S. Assistant Attorney General John C. Demers said Monday that Mr. Domingo had “wanted to use improvised explosive devices against innocent civilians and he selected components that would make the bombs even more deadly to the victims he targeted.”
In conversations with an FBI source and in additional online posts, Mr. Domingo expressed support for violent jihad, a desire to seek retribution for attacks against Muslims and a willingness to become a martyr, according to a 30-page affidavit. He had considered various attacks, including targeting Jewish people, churches and police officers.
He ultimately planned to detonate an explosive device packed with “several hundred” three-inch nails at a rally scheduled to take place Sunday in Long Beach, California, according to a Justice Department press release. He had purchased 8 pounds to puncture internal organs and gave them to the bomb maker, though the resulting contraption contained only inert materials, authorities said.
A former Army infantryman, Mr. Domingo received combat experience in Afghanistan.
⦁ This article is based in part on wire service reports.