San Jose Man Charged in Bomb Plot in Court

Ex-Marine, 28, arrested by undercover FBI agents

By Chris Roberts
|  Thursday, Feb 14, 2013  |  Updated 4:42 PM PDT
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FBI Expert Terror Says Catch Saved Lives

Joan Lynch

Matthew Llaneza appears in federal court in Oakland during a bail hearing on Feb. 14, 2013.

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FBI Sting Thwarts Oakland Terror Attack Attempt

A California man who thought he was meeting someone linked to the Taliban was arrested Friday morning after federal agents say he tried to detonate some sort of car-bomb at a Bank of America branch near Oakland's airport.

FBI Expert Terror Says Catch Saved Lives

LaRae Quy, a former FBI counterintelligence and undercover agent, said the FBI's ability to gain Llaneza's trust likely saved lives. "The undercover agent was able to establish a rapport and real trust so this individual was able to feel comfortable with trusting him with this bigger plan, and even involved him in it."
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The San Jose man lured into a plot to bomb an Oakland bank by an FBI agent posing as a terrorist appeared in court on Thursday for the first time.

Matthew Aaron Llaneza, 28, is charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. He is a former United States Marine with a history of mental illness. No legal action was taken in court today; his case was continued until March 8.

Llaneza met with an undercover FBI agent on Nov. 30, who told Llaneza that he was connected to the Taliban in Afghanistan. Llaneza then proposed to car-bomb a Bank of America branch on Hegenberger Road, according to the FBI.

On Feb. 8, Llaneza drove there with a dozen buckets of chemicals wired to a cell phone, FBI documents state. The chemicals were fakes, prepared by the FBI to look like a bomb. The FBI arrested Llaneza when he allegedly tried to detonate the bombs with a cell phone.

His arrest has sparked controversy, as he had recently converted to Islam, and his attorney in a 2011 weapons charge said his mental state is in question.

Experts in the case say that subjects like Llaneza, lured in by federal agents posing as terrorists, are given "ample time" to back out.

The case is reminiscent of other recent stings, such as the 2010 car bomb plot in Portland and another case in New York City, where a federal agent sold four men fake missiles.

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