BY RICHARD WINTON AND JAMES QUEALLY
LOS ANGELES TIMES/TNS
LOS ANGELES – A San Fernando Valley man planned to detonate improvised explosive devices at several Southern California locations to cause “mass casualties” in a terror plot thwarted by law enforcement officials, authorities said Monday.
Mark Steven Domingo, 26, an Army veteran from Reseda, was arrested the night of April 26 after he took delivery of what he thought was a live bomb from an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a bomb maker, officials said. He was charged with attempting to provide materiel support to terrorists.
According to a federal affidavit, “after considering various attacks — including targeting Jews, churches and police officers — Domingo decided to detonate an IED at a rally scheduled to take place in Long Beach this past weekend.
Hundreds of nails
As part of the plot, Domingo asked his confederate — who actually was cooperating with the FBI as part of the investigation — to find a bomb maker, and Domingo last week purchased several hundred nails to be used as shrapnel inside the IED.”
“Domingo said he specifically bought 3-inch nails because they would be long enough to penetrate the human body and puncture internal organs,” the affidavit states.
John C. Demers, the assistant attorney general for the Justice Department national security division, said Domingo wanted to use improvised explosive devices that “would make the bombs even more deadly to the victims he targeted.”
Prosecutors said Domingo sought retribution for the attacks on New Zealand mosques and said he was willing to become a martyr.
“There must be retribution,” he said in an online post, according to the federal criminal complaint. He also allegedly expressed allegiance to Islamic State.
“America needs another vegas event … (to) give them a taste of the terror they gladly spread all over the world,” Domingo allegedly wrote in reference to the massacre at the Route 91 concert in October 2017.
FBI Special Agent Tasha Coolidge described Domingo’s plans in a 30-page affidavit.
After federal authorities saw his extremist comments online, an informant made contact with him. During a drive March 18, Domingo pointed out possible targets, including “police cars, churches and a National Guard Armory” to the person he believed to be his co-conspirator, Coolidge said.
The veteran said he didn’t plan on getting away: “Martyrdom, bro.”
Domingo talked about using guns to conduct an attack, but the confidential informant suggested he knew someone who could make IEDS. “That is even better,” Domingo said, according to court records.
In a subsequent meeting, Domingo used the Arabic word for “nonbelievers” and said they were to blame for starting it, but “I am gonna finish it.”
“Murder me. Kill me. I’ll die Shadid,” he declared, according to the affidavit. The Arabic word means “strong or powerful, and brave.”
Attack on ‘freeway’
Court records went on to detail an April 3 meeting in which Domingo proposed killing police officers and military service personnel in Los Angeles. He said he wanted a large-scale attack, something like “an IED here, on the freeway.”
“Make ’em bleed, like in Ramadi,” he said, referencing the bloody battleground city in the Iraq war. Domingo said the attack would be revenge for “our brothers in Christchurch and our sisters who were slaughtered,” the documents read.
On April 19, the Army veteran’s talk escalated, and he arrived at a meeting wearing camouflage pants and holding a backpack with an AK-47-style rifle, according to the affidavit. He said he was prepared to commit “jihad.”
After talk about a drive-by shooting using the assault rifle, officials said he ended up planning to target rallies in Long Beach and Huntington Beach. Worried those events might be canceled, he also considered blowing up the Santa Monica Pier as it would be “crowded,” documents show.
When the informant told Domingo the Long Beach rally would happen, he proceeded with a plan to plant IEDs there, according to the affidavit. At that point, an undercover investigator joined the supposed plot as a bomb maker.
On April 26, the informant and undercover investigator gave Domingo what he thought were active bombs, and they drove to Bluff Park to scope out the location for the attack. Domingo said if he survived the bombing, he also planned to attack the Port of Long Beach to disrupt the U.S. economy, records show.
On Friday night, after the trio left the park and Domingo carried the IEDs to his car, FBI agents arrested him.
The terror plot was uncovered less than 48 hours after a gunman opened fire inside a San Diego County synagogue, killing one woman and wounding several others in what law enforcement officials are investigating as an anti-Semitic hate crime.