Long Beach, CA – A U.S. Army veteran and recent Islam convert has been arrested for allegedly plotting to carry out a large-scale terrorist attack as retribution for the terror attack at a mosque in New Zealand.
Law enforcement officials had been monitoring 26-year-old Mark Steven Domingo for several weeks, after he began posting online about gathering materials for a bomb and the arsenal of weapons he had amassed, NBC News reported.
"There were mosque shootings in new Zealand," Domingo wrote in one post after 50 people were killed in the Christchurch attacks, according to federal prosecutors. "[T]here must be retribution."
"I feel like I should make a christians life miserable tomorrow for our fallen bros n sis in new Zealand...maybe a jews life...they shed our blood...no Muslim should have to experience this, a message needs to be sent,” another post read.
A Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) “online covert employee” and a confidential informant were also part of the private message group where Domingo made his posts.
Domingo ultimately told the confidential informant that he was considering carrying out attacks on Jews, Christians, law enforcement officers, the Santa Monica Pier, and multiple churches, according to The Washington Post.
He also expressed his support of the Islamic State, and said he would “swear allegiance” to the militant terrorist group if they “came here,” police said.
Domingo, who returned from a deployment to Afghanistan in 2013, said his goal was to inflict “mass casualties” on Americans, according to court documents.
When he was asked if he planned to be taken into custody if he carried out an attack, the former U.S. Army infantryman indicated he was willing to die for his cause, NBC News reported.
“Martyrdom, bro,” he casually responded, according to court documents.
During a press conference on Monday, U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Nicola Hanna said that Domingo developed the plot over the past two months, and that he wanted to target “innocent Americans,” The Washington Post reported.
According to court documents, Domingo narrowed the location of the attack two anti-illegal immigration rallies that were scheduled to take place in Huntington Beach and Long Beach during the weekend of April 27, and ultimately opted to bomb the Long Beach location.
During conversations with the confidential informant – who Domingo believed was a co-conspirator – he allegedly considered tossing a grenade into the crowd or carrying out a drive-by shooting.
He finally settled on a plan to detonate a homemade improvised explosive device (IED).
“An IED will do a lot more damage crowd-wise,” he said, according to police.
The FBI informant told him he knew someone who could help them to build the bomb, NBC News reported.
"We'll both make it. I just don't know how," Domingo said, according to court documents. "I’ll be honest. I’m smart in history but I failed chemistry. Science is not my forte…If he doesn’t want to make it, don’t force him. But ask him how. Details...F--king to the letter details. Ask him.”
Domingo subsequently purchased 80 pounds of three-inch nails for the bomb, “because they would be long enough to penetrate the human body and puncture internal organs,” court documents said.
On April 26, the FBI informant brought Domingo multiple devices, which Domingo believed were IEDs, the Santa Monica Daily Press reported.
Domingo transported the supposed bombs to the Long Beach rally location, where he was arrested for providing and attempting to provide material support to terrorists.
The planned rally at Long Beach was attended exclusively by left-wing counter-protesters who would have been the likely victims of the attack.
“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,” U.S. Attorney for the Central District of California Nick Hanna said, according to NBC News.
FBI Special Agent in Charge Ryan Young, who headed up the investigation, said that Domingo’s progression from ideation to action was rapid, the Santa Monica Daily Press reported.
“Our biggest fear is this, which is what we call a rapid radicalization and mobilization of violence,” Agent Young explained. “People ask us what keeps us up at night. This is a case that keeps us up at night.”