Federal agents arrested a California man this morning in a terror sting after he allegedly tried to detonate a car bomb at an Oakland bank as part of a Taliban plot.
The FBI said the explosive device that Matthew Aaron Llaneza, 28, of San Jose tried to use was not operable and posed no threat, and that Llaneza's Taliban contact was actually an undercover agent.
According to authorities, in November Llaneza met with a man he believed was linked to the Taliban and the mujahideen in Afghanistan. At their initial meeting, Llaneza allegedly proposed a car-bomb attack against a bank and making the bombing look like the work of anti-government militias. According to the criminal complaint, Llaneza wanted to spark a government crackdown and a right-wing backlash that would lead to civil war.
Llaneza and his Taliban contact, who was really an informant, then allegedly constructed the bomb inside an SUV parked in Hayward, California. On the evening of Feb. 7, according to the complaint, Llaneza parked the SUV outside a Bank of America branch on Hegenberger Road in Oakland and then walked to a nearby location, where he met the undercover agent. He was arrested by the South Bay Joint Terrorism Task Force after he allegedly attempted to detonate the bomb via cellphone.
Llaneza appeared before a federal judge in Oakland this morning, and will return for a bail hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 13. He is charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted.