Antonio Martinez, who attempted to detonate a car bomb at a Maryland recruiting station as an act of holy war against the United States, did not know the bomb was inert.
A Baltimore man entered a guilty plea on Thursday to attempting to use a car bomb to destroy a military recruiting office and kill the six service members in the building in an effort to wage Islamic holy war on US soil.
Antonio Martinez agreed to drive an SUV laden with what he thought was an active bomb to the front entrance of a recruiting station in Catonsville, Md. on Dec. 8, 2010.
After parking the car bomb, Mr. Martinez traveled to a safe distance where he attempted to detonate the explosives.
What Martinez did not know was that his co-conspirators in the bombing were working undercover with the Federal Bureau of Investigation. The bomb was inert and the triggering device was rigged to fail.
Law enforcement officials stress that they gave Martinez multiple opportunities to back out of the bombing plot, including a chance four days before the planned attack.
“I came to you about this, brother,” Martinez said to an undercover FBI agent posing as a militant Muslim with connections in Afghanistan.
Under terms of a plea agreement, prosecutors are asking that Martinez be sentenced to 25 years in prison. He faces up to life in prison.
US District Judge Frederick Motz has set sentencing for April 6.
Martinez is a US citizen and was a recent convert to Islam at the time of the plot. He had come to admire the writings of Anwar Awlaki, the US-born militant cleric who had called on American-based Muslims to attack inside the US. The cleric was killed by an American missile in Yemen last year.
Martinez called him “a real inspiration.” He once wrote: “I love Sheikh Anwar al Awlaki for the sake of ALLAH.... I don’t care if he is on a terrorist list!”