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Muslim convert pleads guilty in US bomb plot

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WASHINGTON (AFP) – A young Muslim-American man who tried to blow up a US military recruiting station pleaded guilty Thursday and faces 25 years in prison for the scheme, justice officials said.

Antonio Martinez, 22, who changed his name to Muhammad Hussain when he converted to Islam, pleaded guilty to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction against federal property in connection with a plot to bomb an armed forces recruiting station outside of Baltimore, Maryland, the US Justice Department said in a statement.

“We are catching dangerous suspects before they strike, and we are investigating them in a way that maximizes the liberty and security of law-abiding citizens,” US Attorney for the District of Maryland Rod Rosenstein, said in a statement announcing the guilty plea.

“That is what the American people expect of the Justice Department, and that is what we aim to deliver.”

FBI agents in December 2010 arrested Martinez, a recent convert to Islam whom they said dreamed of jihad, for plotting to carry out a personal strike against US forces.

Martinez was arrested as he attempted to set off what he believed was a car bomb at the military recruitment facility, but which was in fact a government-supplied fake.

The targeted recruitment post is in a shopping center in Catonsville, Maryland, south of Baltimore and a short drive northeast of the capital Washington.

An affidavit at the time of his arrest said Martinez had publicly posted on his Facebook account a statement calling for violence to stop the oppression of Muslims.

If the judge in the case accepts the plea deal, Martinez will be sentenced to 25 years in prison, according to US officials. A hearing has been set for April 6 in US District Court.

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