A Mesa man has been arrested in Oakland, accused of straying to blow up a Bank of America there. Investigators say the man was trying to spark a civil war, and sympathized with the Taliban.
FBI agents arrested Matthew Aaron Llaneza, 28, Thursday night near a Bank of America branch in Oakland, Calif.
Llaneza had parked an SUV in front of the bank, believing the vehicle contained an explosive rigged to detonate from a cell phone command, authorities said. Llaneza was arrested as he attempted to detonate the device with a cell phone as he stood nearby.
Llaneza was a graduate of Red Mountain High School in Mesa, class of 2003. His last residence in Arizona was at the San Fernando Apartments near University and Greenfied Road.
He now lives in Oakland.
The FBI says Llaneza expressed support for the Taliban and had hoped the bombing would be blamed on anti-government activists and would somehow spark a civil war after a severe government crackdown. The FBI said Llaneza expressed a desire to travel to Afghanistan to train Taliban fighters.
Llaneza was released from state prison in November 2011 after receiving a one-year sentence in state court for illegal transportation of an assault rifle, the FBI said.
The FBI says that on Nov. 30, Llaneza first met with an undercover agent he believed to be connected to the Taliban and the mujahidin in Afghanistan. That's when he allegedly laid out his plan to bomb a financial institution.
The two met three more times in December to finalize the plan, according to an affidavit written by FBI agent Christopher Monika. Monika said the FBI rented a storage unit in Hayward and "positioned a sports utility (SUV) in it for its use as the delivery vehicle for the car bomb."
On Jan. 26, the two constructed the "bomb" by pouring chemicals purchased and mixed by the FBI into 12 five-gallon buckets in the rear of the SUV. Llaneza purchased two cell phones, an LED light, nine-volt battery and a "battery snap cap" to construct the device. The undercover agent rigged one of the cell phones to serve as the trigger. The FBI says the device was inert and never in danger of exploding.
They met one more time on Feb. 2 to make sure the trigger worked and connected the blasting cap and the trigger to the device.
Llaneza made an appearance in federal court Friday without entering a plea and remains in custody.
This wasn't the first time Llaneza has been arrested. In 2011 he was sentenced to a year for transporting an AK-47 assault rifle and possession of a high capacity magazine.
He also has a history of mental problems. In 2011 police placed him on a mental hold at a psychiatric unit after he made bizarre claims and became combative.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.