Federal agents arrested a San Jose man Friday after he attempted to detonate a vehicle bomb at an Oakland Bank of America branch.
FBI agents arrested Matthew Llaneza, 28, as part of an undercover sting organized by the South Bay Joint Terrorism Task Force. Agents equipped Llaneza with an inert device that never caused a threat to the public.
Llaneza had contact with an undercover FBI agent he believed was an terrorist operative connected to the Taliban and mujahidin in Afghanistan. The men first met on Nov. 30, and Llaneza said he hoped to cause a civil war. He hoped the bombing would cause a governmental crackdown if it was made to look like it was caused by anti-government militias.
Llaneza selected the Bank of America branch at 303 Hegenberger Road as his target. He picked a spot next to a support column of the bank building as a good location for the bomb, expressed a desire for the bomb to bring down the entire bank building, and offered to drive the car bomb to the bank at the time of the attack, according to the FBI.
Llaneza and the undercover agent constructed the purported explosive device inside a sport-utility vehicle (SUV) parked inside a storage facility in nearby Hayward. Llaneza purchased two cell phones to be used in creating and operating the trigger device for the car bomb. One of these cell phones was incorporated into the trigger device itself. The other was reserved for use on the night of the attack.
Llaneza drove the SUV containing the purported explosive device to the target bank branch in Oakland on Thursday. He parked the SUV beneath an overhang of the bank building where he armed the trigger device. He then proceeded on foot to a nearby location a safe distance from the bank building, where he met the undercover agent. Once there, Llaneza attempted to detonate the bomb by using the second cell phone he had purchased to place two calls to the trigger device attached to the car bomb. Federal agents then arrested him.