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US Army veteran held for planning bomb blasts to avenge NZ terror attack


A United States Army veteran and California resident, who allegedly planned to bomb "multiple targets" in Southern California, was arrested and his domestic terror plot was thwarted, authorities said on Monday.
The suspect, identified as Mark Steven Domingo, who recently converted to Islam according to federal authorities, was seeking revenge for the March 15 shootings in two Christchurch mosques in New Zealand that claimed 50 lives, The Washington Post reported.
Domingo was arrested on Friday at the Long Beach, California, a park where a rally he had targeted was set to take place. He faces terrorism charges and is expected to appear in the US District Court on Monday afternoon (local time).
He spoke of unleashing an attack similar to the massacre in Las Vegas, Huntington Beach, the port of Long Beach and the Santa Monica Pier, aiming to kill hundreds of people and was especially targeting white nationalists, Jews, churches and military bases, according to court documents filed on Monday.
He has been charged with providing and attempting to provide material support to terrorists. Domingo, 26, of Reseda, "planned and took steps to manufacture and use a weapon of mass destruction order to commit mass murder," according to the criminal complaint cited by The New York Times.
"The individual charged in this case wanted to carry out a mass casualty attack with explosive devices, and he moved very quickly from talking about violence to mobilizing to commit such an attack," Michael McGarrity, the assistant director of the FBI's Counterterrorism Section, was quoted as saying.
"This case should remind the public of the need to be vigilant and notify law enforcement if you see suspicious behaviour," McGarrity added.
However, federal authorities noted that Domingo had no known co-conspirators and does not constitute an ongoing threat.
Earlier, Domingo was an Army infantryman who had been deployed in Afghanistan from September 2012 to January 2013. Officials said they reviewed many online posts in which Domingo voiced his enthusiastic support for "violent jihad" and his desire to attack the Los Angeles area.
On March 3, Domingo posted "America needs another Vegas event," a reference to the massacre in 2017, "something to kick off civil unrest." Later that month he posted "there must be retribution" for the attacks on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand.
The arrest comes just two days after a shooting at a synagogue in San Diego killed one woman and wounded three others.
The accused, 19-year-old John Earnest, who was booked on murder charges, had released a manifesto online shortly before the attack that consisted of various anti-Semitic catchphrases and the message "all Jews deserve hell".

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First Published: Apr 30 2019 | 3:27 AM IST

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