The FBI has arrested a man who allegedly wanted to detonate a bomb at a Florida beach and attack police at their homes in what authorities describe as an ISIS-inspired terror attack, officials said.
Harlem Suarez, 23, of Key West, Florida, has been charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction in the United States.
“Stopping attacks on our homeland by those inspired or directed by designated foreign terrorist organizations is the highest priority,” the head of the Justice Department’s National Security Division, John Carlin, said in a statement.
Suarez first came onto the FBI’s radar in April, after he posted “extremist rhetoric” and pro-ISIS messages on Facebook, according to the Justice Department.
The FBI then sent in a “confidential source,” who for months allegedly talked with Suarez online and in person about plans to attack the United States.
In May, according to the FBI, Suarez recorded his own ISIS recruitment video, declaring: "We will destroy America and divide it into two. We will raise our black flag on top of your White House and any president on duty."
The FBI said that in subsequent meetings with the FBI informant, Suarez discussed plans for an attack around the July 4 holiday and said he would "cook American[s] ... in cages" -- an apparent reference to a horrific propaganda video released by ISIS showing a captured Jordanian pilot being burned alive while in a cage.
Last week, Suarez allegedly gave the informant two boxes of nails, a cell phone, a backpack and $100 to build a bomb. In the most recent discussions, Suarez talked about bombing a public beach in Key West and placing explosive devices under police cars and at their homes, according to charging documents filed by the FBI.
The FBI arrested Suarez on Monday.
“There is no room for failure when it comes to investigating the potential use of a weapon of mass destruction,” said Special Agent in Charge George Piro, head of the FBI’s Miami Field Office.
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