SAN FRANCISCO – The FBI arrested a San Jose man as he went through the motions of detonating what he believed to be a car bomb in front of a Northern California bank, federal authorities said Friday.
FBI agents arrested Matthew Aaron Llaneza, 28, Thursday night near a Bank of America branch in Oakland as part of a sting operation.
Llaneza had minutes earlier parked an SUV in front of the bank believing the vehicle contained an explosive rigged to detonate from a cellphone command, authorities said. Llaneza was arrested as he stood nearby and tried to detonate the device with a cellphone.
The FBI said Llaneza expressed support for the Taliban and had hoped the bombing would be blamed on anti-government activists and would somehow spark a civil war after a severe government crackdown. The FBI said Llaneza expressed a desire to travel to Afghanistan to train Taliban fighters.
He is a convert to the Islam religion who was once involuntary placed in a psychiatric unit by police, officials said. His father told police that Llaneza had been “kicked out” of the U.S. Marine Corps but he didn’t know the reason.
The FBI said that on Nov. 30, Llaneza first met with an undercover agent he believed to be connected to the Taliban and the mujahedeen in Afghanistan. That’s when he allegedly laid out his plan to bomb a financial institution.