Baltimore man accused of bomb plot is indicted by jury

Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, December 22, 2010

A Baltimore man accused of plotting to blow up a military recruiting station in Maryland was indicted Tuesday by a federal grand jury on charges of attempted murder of federal officers and attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction.

Antonio Martinez, 21, who recently converted to Islam and changed his name to Muhammad Hussain, is accused of trying to kill members of the military, whom he saw as a threat to Muslims. 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 this month outside a recruiting center in Catonsville, authorities said.

The case is one in a recent series in which federal authorities have used informants or undercover agents to monitor extremists, secretly befriend those suspected of plotting terror attacks and, in some cases, provide the means to carry them out.

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 that the strategy 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.

On Tuesday, defense attorney Joseph Balter said Martinez intends to plead not guilty and "vigorously contest the charges."

In previous court hearings, Balter has said there is a "very legitimate issue as to whether the government entrapped" Martinez. Balter has said his client was "incapable" of carrying out the plot on his own and failed when he tried to get others to join him.

Prosecutors have said that 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 chances to back out but decided to go forward.

Martinez, a former Prince George's County public school student, didn't work with any outside terrorist group, authorities said. Authorities said he expressed his radical leanings on Facebook, declaring he hates "Any 1 who opposes Allah."

A video secretly taken the day of the planned Dec. 8 attack shows Martinez grinning and saying "Allahu Akbar" - Arabic for "God is great" - as he prepared to detonate what he thought was a powerful bomb at the Armed Forces Career Center, prosecutors said.

After his arrest, he told federal authorities that he was "doing it for the right cause," prosecutors said.

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