FBI: Red Mountain High School Graduate Tried to Bomb Bank; Thought He Had Connection to Taliban

A graduate of Red Mountain High School in Mesa is accused of trying to bomb a bank in Oakland, California, but his purportedly Taliban-connected partner was an undercover FBI agent.

According to the FBI, 28-year-old Matthew Aaron Llaneza, now a resident of San Jose, California, wanted to make it look like the bombing was carried out by "an umbrella organization for a loose collection of anti-government militias and their sympathizers," according to the FBI.

"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," a statement from the FBI says.

According to the feds:

The criminal complaint alleges that on the evening of February 7, 2013, Llaneza drove the SUV containing the purported explosive device to the target bank branch in Oakland. He parked the SUV beneath an overhang of the bank building where he armed the trigger device. He then proceeded on foot to a nearby location a safe distance from the bank building, where he met the undercover agent. Once there, Llaneza attempted to detonate the bomb by using the second cell phone he had purchased to place two calls to the trigger device attached to the car bomb. Federal agents then arrested him.

Llaneza was charged late last week with "attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction against property used in an activity that affects interstate or foreign commerce."

Llaneza's history in Arizona was also cracked open a bit by the San Jose Mercury.

"During his time in Arizona, Llaneza described himself as an 'armorist' who was proficient in weapons assembly, and records show that in February 2008 he founded Sand Fire Tactical, which he described in its articles of organization as an 'Internet sales, light manufacturing' firm in Mesa," the paper reports.

This information -- along with the fact that Llaneza was a Red Mountain High School graduate -- was uncovered by the Mercury in Santa Clara County, California, court records. The paper says it was related to a 2011 conviction for "illegally having an AK-47 assault rifle and accompanying high-capacity magazines he purportedly purchased and registered in Arizona."

The Mercury, citing the same court records, says Llaneza had a history of mental illness, and apparently left Arizona in 2011, after converting to Islam, and started to go by the name Tarq Kahn.

Federal court documents don't reveal anything not mentioned by the FBI's statement, but we'll check for additional details. Stay tuned for updates.

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Matthew Hendley
Contact: Matthew Hendley