Baltimore man accused of plotting to blow up military recruiting station in Md.

By Maria Glod, Jerry Markon and Tara Bahrampour
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, December 9, 2010; 1:02 AM

A Baltimore construction worker was charged Wednesday with plotting to blow up a military recruiting station in Maryland after the FBI learned of his radical leanings on Facebook, joined his plot and supplied him with a fake car bomb that he tried to detonate, federal officials said.

Antonio Martinez, 21, a U.S. citizen who recently converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Hussain, declared on his Facebook page that he hates "Any 1 who opposes Allah." Those kinds of postings, brought to the FBI's attention, sparked an intensive investigation involving an undercover agent, a secret informant and a chilling plot to kill military personnel in the United States because they were killing Muslims overseas, according to an FBI affidavit filed Wednesday.

Martinez was so intent on carrying out the attack on the Catonsville recruiting station that he approached at least three people to join in what he saw as his mission, court papers say. Another - whom Martinez knew as his "Afghani brother" - was actually an undercover FBI agent.

The arrest is the latest in a series of cases in which federal authorities have used undercover operatives to monitor extremists, secretly befriend those suspected of plotting terror attacks and, in some cases, even to provide the means to carry them out.

Last month, undercover agents in Oregon helped a man who set out to kill thousands at a Christmas tree lighting ceremony prepare a bomb (which was fake), then arrested him after he tried to detonate it in a crowded public square. In October, federal agents posing as Islamic radicals met with a Northern Virginia man later accused of plotting to bomb Washington area Metro stations.

The FBI's tactics have been criticized by some Muslims, who accuse government agents of infiltrating mosques and trying to entrap members of their community. But the strategy has worked, said Brian Jenkins, a terrorism expert with the Rand Corp think tank. "There is no question that they have prevented terrorist attacks," Jenkins said, adding that officials have become more careful in recent years to avoid entrapment.
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