Terror plot suspect ordered held
A Baltimore man accused of plotting to blow up a military recruiting station was "grinning from ear-to-ear" and said "Allah Akbar" as he prepared to detonate what he thought was a powerful bomb, federal prosecutors said in court Monday.
Antonio Martinez, 21, who recently converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Hussain, was determined to kill members of the military who he saw as a threat to Muslims, and he also tried to recruit others to participate, prosecutors said. Ultimately, the FBI learned of Martinez's intentions through an informant, joined the plot and supplied him with a fake car bomb that he tried to detonate.
But defense attorney Joseph Balter said in court Monday that his client was "incapable" of carrying out an attack on his own and was caught in a "government sting operation.
"They induced him to be involved in an act that was clearly the design of the government, Balter said.
Arguments made at a detention hearing Monday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore are a preview of what is to come as courts consider the FBI's increasing use of undercover agents who monitor extremists, pose as co-conspirators and sometimes even provide the means to carry out an attack.
The FBI's tactic has been criticized by some Muslims, who accuse government agents of trying to entrap members of their community. Legal experts say the tactic can be effective in securing more serious charges, and that if the accused intended to carry out an attack and wasn't persuaded by the government it is not entrapment.
Federal prosecutors said it was Martinez's idea to target the recruiting center and that he brought up the idea of using a bomb. They said he was given several opportunities to back out of the plan, but he chose to press forward.
Martinez even planned to video the explosion after he detonated the bomb from a site within eyeshot of the Catonsville recruiting station, prosecutors said.
"We are not criminals," Assistant U.S. Attorney Christine Manuelian said Martinez said into the video. "We are mujahideen."
At the conclusion of the hearing, Magistrate Judge Susan K. Gauvey ordered Martinez held pending trial.
Gauvey said Martinez would be a danger if released and his alleged conduct was "erratic and irrational."
But she also said that the defense would pursue i's argument that the FBI had entrapped Martinez but that it was "an issue for another day."
[This post has been updated.]
| December 13, 2010; 3:30 PM ET
Categories: Baltimore, From the Courthouse, Maria Glod, Maryland
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