Authorities in Southern California were able to disrupt an alleged terrorism plot aimed at "multiple targets" in the Southland the Department of Justice said today.
Mark Steven Domingo, 26, of Reseda, California, was arrested and is facing federal charges in connection with a terrorist plot in which he planned on detonating an improvised explosive device (IED) to cause a mass casualty incident, the Department of Justice said in a news release Monday afternoon.
Federal prosecutors say the former U.S. Army Infantryman “planned and took steps to manufacture and use a weapon of mass destruction in order to commit mass murder.”
"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," said United States Attorney Nick Hanna. "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."
Domingo first came to law enforcement's attention after he logged onto an online message board and began posting incendiary comments in support of a violent jihad and desire to seek retribution for attacks against Muslims, the affidavit states. After considering attacks against Jews, churches or police officers, prosecutors say Domingo planned to detonate an IED scheduled to take place in Long Beach over the weekend.
The suspect reportedly asked undercover FBI agents to help him find a bomb-maker, and Domingo purchased several hundred nails to be used as shrapnel inside the IED. He "specifically bought three-inch nails because they would be long enough to penetrate the human body and puncture internal organs,” the affidavit states. He asked the bomb-maker to create an IED that could cause up to 50 casualties and referenced the Boston Marathon bombing.
Domingo sent a message to his would-be confederate last Thursday letting him know the attack was on for that weekend. The criminal complaint states Domingo posted an online video that professed his Muslim faith on March 2 and a second video on March 3 in which he said "America needs another vegas event" in reference to the mass shooting in Oct. 2017, to give America a "taste of the terror they gladly spread all over the world."
Domingo served as an infantryman private in the Army between Nov. 2011 and February 2013. He was deployed to Afghanistan from Sept. 2012 to February 2013, an Army spokesperson said.
After a gunman entered two mosques in New Zealand and opened fire on March 13, Domingo posted that "there must be retribution" for the attack. The affidavit states Domingo allegedly expressed support for ISIS and said "if ISIS 'came here,' he would swear allegiance to ISIS."
The suspect reportedly considered several scenarios when planning his attack. According to the affidavit, Domingo knew what he was planning violated the law and he urged the FBI's source to stay quiet about his planned attack, saying what they were doing were "federal charges" and that they "broke federal law."
"Domingo, a former U.S. Army Infantryman, wanted to use improvised explosive devices against innocent civilians and he selected components that would make the bombs even more deadly to the victims he targeted," said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John C. Demers. "His arrest today mitigates the threat he posed to others in the Los Angeles community. I want to thank the agents, analysts, and prosecutors who are responsible for this investigation and arrest."
If convicted, Domingo faces up to 15 years in a federal prison.
News of the foiled terror plot comes just two days after a gunman entered a synagogue in San Diego County and opened fire, killing one woman and wounding three others in what officials called an anti-Semitic hate crime.
This is a breaking news update. More details will be added as they become available.
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