A Florida man was recently arrested by the FBI on federal terrorism charges. Harlem Suarez, 23, who is also known as Almlak Benitez, was charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, an offense that carries a potential sentence of up to life in prison. The U.S. Attorney’s Office says that Suarez was plotting to detonate a shrapnel-laden bomb on a beach in Key West.
Suarez caught the attention of the FBI in April, when someone reported that he was attempting to recruit people to join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). One post read, “Stand up with us my brother. Stand up with the black flag and the AK with 10 mag, fight with us, be a gangster with us, kill our enemies and convert to Islam now in USA.”
The agency used a confidential source to interact with Suarez by cellphone, online, text messaging, and in person. Over the next few months, the two exchanged many conversations regarding the making of a bomb. The source told Suarez he knew someone who could make the bomb, and introduced him to an undercover FBI agent.
Last month, Suarez purchased materials to make the bomb, including galvanized nails. The plan was to place the bomb in a backpack and use a cellphone to remotely set it off. He then met with the confidential source and gave the source the materials, along with $100, to make the bomb. Several days later, he and the source met with the FBI agent, who gave them the bomb and instructions on how to explode it. The device was actually inert and could not be detonated. Moments after the exchange, federal agents moved in and Suarez was arrested.
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