Law enforcement officials arrested and charged a U.S. Army veteran allegedly plotting a terror attack in California particularly in the Los Angeles area.
On Monday, the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) identified the suspect as former U.S. infantryman Mark Steven Domingo of Reseda California. Domingo had combat experience in Afghanistan.
Authorities arrested Domingo on Friday night after receiving inert explosive devices (IEDs) from an undercover law enforcement officer. He believed the device was live bomb, which he intended to detonate and commit a mass murder.
Suspect made a series of online posts about his desire to commit mass murder
According to the criminal complaint, Domingo made several online posts including a video in which he declared his Muslim faith, support for violent jihad and intention to commit a terror attack in the Los Angeles area.
Additionally, Domingo stated in his online post on March 3 that “America needs another vegas event.” He was referring to the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas where 59 people were killed and many others were injured.
Furthermore, he wrote on another online post on March 14 that “there must be retribution” after the attacks on mosques in New Zealand.
In response to Domingo’s online postings, a confidential human resource (CHS) from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) started an online conversation with him. Their conversation resulted in a series of in-person meetings. During their first meeting, he discussed his initial targets including Jews, police officers, churches and a military facility.
On March 20, Domingo sent a private message to the CHS expressing his desire to conduct a drive-by shooting using his AK-style rifle. Two days later, he met with the CHS and discussed different plans to commit a terrorist attack.
On March 27, he told the CHS that he was upset with his neighbor and wanted to kill him because his blood was “halal.” He added that he could stage the attack as burglary and that could test the response time of the police.
On April 3, Domingo and the CHS met again in person. At the time, he re-affirmed his desire to commit a large-scale terror attack in the Los Angeles area using firearms and improvised explosive device (IED). He believed that their discussions would result to “conspiracy charge.” He told the CHS, “We broke the law.”
Suspect decided to carry out terror attack at a park in Long Beach
On April 19, decided to detonate an IED during a rally in Long Beach, which was organized by a white nationalist group. That rally was scheduled this past weekend. He told the CHS that he doesn’t know how to make a bomb and asked if he could find someone who knows how.
On April 22, the CHS told Domingo that he found a bomb maker (a UC or undercover agent) but he needs to purchase the materials needed to make an explosive device. He agreed to purchase the material including several hundreds of nails to be used as shrapnel inside the bomb.
“Domingo said he specifically bought three-inch nails because they would be long enough to penetrate the human body and puncture internal organs,” according to the complaint.
On April 24, Domingo finalized his plans for the terror attack. He following day, he sent a message to CHS that the attack will proceed as planned. On the Friday, the 26th, the CHS and UC delivered multiple inert devices to Domingo. He believed the devices were weapons of mass destruction.
After inspecting the devices, they drove to a park in Long Beach to surveil the location for attack. Domingo wanted to determine the most “crowded” areas to kill the most people. They went back to their previous meeting place where authorities arrested Domingo.
Authorities prevented a potential horrific attack
In a statement, Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers said Domingo want to kill innocent civilians. His arrest “mitigates he threat he posed to others in the Los Angeles community.
On the other hand, commented, “This investigation successfully disrupted a very real threat posed by a trained combat soldier who repeatedly stated he wanted to cause the maximum number of casualties. Protecting Americans from terror attacks is the number one priority of the Justice Department, and anyone who plots to use a weapon of mass destruction will be held to account.”
“The individual charged in this case wanted to carry out a mass casualty attack with explosive devices, and he moved very quickly from talking about violence to mobilizing to commit such an attack. This case should remind the public of the need to be vigilant and notify law enforcement if you see suspicious behavior,” said Assistant Director Michael McGarrity of the FBI’s Counterterrorism Division.
The announcement regarding Domingo’s arrest comes after shooting at a synagogue in Poway, California on Saturday. Authorities called the shooting a hate crime.