San Jose man arrested for alleged bank bomb plot

February 8, 2013 11:35:11 PM PST
Federal agents Friday morning arrested a San Jose man for trying to detonate what he thought was a car bomb at an Oakland bank. It turned out to be a FBI set-up.

The terror plot blew up early Friday morning when FBI agents say 28-year-old Matthew Aaron Llaneza went through all the motions of setting off what he believed to be a car bomb a Bank of America branch on Hegenberger Roadnear Interstate 880 and Oakland International Airport.

In the criminal complaint, a special agent from the South Bay Terrorism Task Force explains how Llaneza wanted to blow up a bank in hopes of starting a civil war. According to the FBI, Llaneza's first target was the Federal Reserve in San Francisco. But on Dec. 7, he told the undercover agent the Federal Reserve was too secure and instead they should plan to bomb the Bank of America branch. On Dec. 23 when they drove to the bank, the agent says Llaneza described how he wanted to place a car bomb under the pillars of the bank in hopes of bringing down the entire building.

Detailed in the criminal complaint was how Llaneza laughed and hugged the undercover agent as he planned where the bomb would be placed.

The bomb was 12 5-gallon buckets filled what Lllaneza thought was explosives. The complaint says Llaneza bought a couple of cellphones, a 9-volt battery, battery cap and a LED light to be used in a triggering device.

After driving the black SUV to the bank, Llaneza reportedly walked away to make the call to set off the explosion.

UPS driver John Burgess happened to be driving by at the time.

"About 2 a.m. when I came by and the FBI agents were all around here," Burgess said.

"It sounds to me as though it's a lone wolf wannabe," Rick Smith, of Cannon Street Investigations, said.

Smith spent 26 years in the FBI. He says Llaneza wasn't that organized, but he was serious in his intent.

"The fact of the matter is I think it's a good day for the FBI because they were able to infiltrate this, put an undercover operative in with this suspect," Smith said.

It's still not known how the FBI first got onto Llaneza, but for two months the undercover agent describes how he monitored and facilitated Llaneza's plot.

In the complaint, the FBI agent says Llaneza has a prior record -- a 2011 conviction for transportation of an AK-47 assault rifle and a high capacity magazine. He was sentenced to a year in prison and released in November 2011. A year later, he had his first meeting with the undercover agent.


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