Maryland Jihadist Bombing Plot Strikingly Like Portland Jihadist Plot

by Andrew C. McCarthy

Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism has now posted the criminal complaint against Antonio Martinez, a/k/a “Muhammad Hussain,” the 21-year-old American convert to Islam arrested today for attempting to bomb the Armed Forces recruiting station on Route 40 in Cantonsville, Maryland. IPT has also posted the government’s press release, announcing and explaining the charges.

The case appears strikingly like the attempted bombing in Portland thwarted on Thanksgiving weekend. Martinez came to the government’s attention in October because he was urging jihad on social Internet sites, such as Facebook. Based on these tips, the FBI was able to insert a confidential informant and an undercover agent. They learned that Martinez was hot to commit violent jihadist attacks, particularly targeting U.S. military personnel. Martinez told them he had chosen the recruiting station in Cantonsville as an ideal target. After Martinez repeatedly reaffirmed his plans, the government operatives convinced him to allow them to take care of pulling together the bomb components. An inert bomb was constructed, which Martinez allegedly tried to detonate today near the recruiting center, after which he was placed under arrest.

The heartening aspect of the story is that Martinez appears to have appealed to a number of area Muslims to join in his plot. They uniformly turned him down, telling him his actions were wrong and would profoundly harm Muslims. At least some of these people appear to have contacted the FBI to report the goings on.

No doubt, we will hear the entrapment defense, as we always do in these cases. Of course, a rational person cannot be enticed into committing mass-murder (the subject of my column the other day), and in this case it is alleged that Martinez both initiated the plot and exhibited mounds of predisposition to commit jihadist violence. But wholly apart from that, it’ll be interesting to hear what defense counsel does with this recorded snippet of conversation between Martinez and the government’s informant: The informant said he wanted to make sure Martinez was not plotting the attack because Martinez felt “like someone [is] pushing you.” Martinez responded: “I came to you about this, brother.”

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