FBI agents arrested Matthew Aaron Llaneza, 28, of San Jose, Calif., Friday after he allegedly tried to detonate a car-bomb at a Bank of America branch, U.S. Attorney Melinda Haag of the Northern District of California said in a news release.
The explosive device wasn't operable, Haag said, because it was supplied by an undercover FBI agent Llaneza allegedly thought was connected to the Taliban and the mujahedin in Afghanistan.
Llanez met the undercover agent Nov. 30 and proposed to conduct a car-bomb attack against a Bay Area bank, "structuring the attack to make it appear that the responsible party was an umbrella organization for a loose collection of anti-government militias and their sympathizers," the U.S. Justice Department said.
"Llaneza's stated goal was to trigger a governmental crackdown, which he expected would trigger a right-wing counter-response against the government followed by, he hoped, civil war," the release said.
The FBI South Bay Joint Terrorism Task Force monitored Llaneza's activities and the dummy explosive device posed no threat to the public, prosecutors said.
Court documents indicate Llaneza parked a sport utility vehicle containing the dummy bomb near the bank and armed a triggering device Thursday, before meeting the undercover agent and trying to detonate the explosive device.
Llaneza has been charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction against property used in an activity that affects interstate or foreign commerce.