Army Veteran Busted in Domestic Terror Plot

U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna stands next to photos of Mark Steven Domingo during a Monday news conference in Los Angeles. Federal prosecutors said Domingo, an Army veteran who converted to Islam, had planned to bomb a white supremacist rally in Southern California as retribution for the New Zealand mosque attacks. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

LOS ANGELES (CN) – A former U.S. Army infantryman wanted to set off a pressure-cooker bomb with shrapnel at a political rally in Southern California over the weekend, but he turned to the wrong person for help: an undercover source working for the FBI, federal prosecutors said Monday.

Mark Steven Domingo, 26, thought he was picking up a live bomb when he met with the source on Friday evening and he scouted a park ahead of a political rally, according to a 30-page affidavit unsealed Monday. Domingo faces charges of providing and attempting to provide material support to terrorists. 

Prosecutors say Domingo sought revenge for violence against Muslims and had been plotting some type of attack since early March.

Domingo planned to set off a bomb at a political rally in Long Beach and scouted out the location on Friday night but was arrested after he received the fake pressure-cooker bomb from the undercover source.

Paul Delacourt, assistant director of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office, said, “I’m extremely glad to be announcing that we interdicted a potential terrorist attack, rather than outlining the FBI’s response to yet another tragedy.”

Authorities say the public was not in danger and there are no known threats after Domingo’s arrest.

Before he devised his plot, Domingo confided with source he met online that he wanted to target “Jews, police officers, churches and a military facility,” according to the affidavit. Domingo also said he could murder a neighbor and that could be the start of a terrorist incident.

This undated California Department of Motor Vehicles photo released by the U.S. Department of Justice shows Mark Domingo. (U.S. Department of Justice via AP)

He discussed using a modified AK-47-style rifle he owned in a drive-by shooting or targeting police officers. Prosecutors said Domingo owned three registered guns including two semi-automatic rifles and a bolt-action rifle. Police recovered the guns along with ammunition and heavy fireworks during a search of Domingo’s home.

When asked how close Domingo was to carrying out these other attacks, U.S. Attorney Nicola Hanna of the Central District of California said, “He had the weapons, he had the ammunition.”

Domingo served in the U.S. Army and was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012 for 4 months. He became a person of interest through messages he shared in online chatrooms this year.

“America needs another vegas (sic) event something to kick off civil unrest and its (sic) not about winning the civil war its (sic) about weakening America giving them a taste of the terror they gladly spread all over the world,” Domingo wrote, referring to the 2017 massacre at a country music festival in Las Vegas, according to prosecutors.

Domingo professed his Muslim faith online on March 2. After the deadly shooting at a mosque in New Zealand on March 13 he wrote “there must be retribution,” according to the affidavit.

Prosecutors say Domingo claimed to support a violent jihad and a desire to get revenge for attacks against Muslims and wanted to be a martyr.

The FBI’s informant said Domingo wanted to find a bomb-maker and he purchased several hundred nails for shrapnel to be used in the bomb. Domingo gave those nails to an undercover officer to be used in the bomb, and on Thursday sent a message that the plot was going to move forward, according to prosecutors.

On Friday evening, several inert bombs were brought to Domingo to inspect. Domingo then traveled with the informant to the park where he planned his attack and shortly after he was arrested, according to the affidavit.

Initially the rally was organized by the white nationalist group United Patriot National Front, but counter-protesters caught wind of the event and planned to attend.

Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna said he did not know which group Domingo planned to target with his terrorist plot, but said it appeared that the attack was meant to target large groups of people.

Domingo made plans to attack a second event in Orange County in the event the rally in Long Beach was canceled. He also said he wanted to carry out some type of attacks on the Santa Monica Pier, a popular and crowded tourist attraction, prosecutors say.

Domingo is scheduled make his first appearance in an LA federal courtroom Monday afternoon.

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