Antonio Martinez aka Muhammad Hussain
The Armed Forces Career Center in Catonsville, Md. is at the center of the bomb plot investigation. (Scott Broom)
BALTIMORE (WUSA/AP) -- Authorities say a man has been arrested in the Baltimore area for plotting to blow up a military recruitment center.
Law enforcement sources say Antonio Martinez, also known as Muhammad Hussain, is of Nicaraguan descent and is a recent convert to Islam who lives in the Baltimore area and is a U.S. citizen.
According to AP, the 21-year-old part-time construction worker was obsessed with jihad and was arrested when he tried to detonate what he thought was a bomb at a military recruitment center.
READ THE COMPLAINT
In a written statement, U.S. Attorney spokesperson Marcia Murphy said: "A Baltimore man has been arrested this morning in connection with a scheme to attack an Armed Forces recruiting station in Catonsville, Maryland, with what he believed to be vehicle bomb. There was no actual danger to the public as the explosives were inert and the suspect had been carefully monitored by law enforcement for months. There is no evidence this individual is tied to the recent shootings at military recruiting centers in the Washington, D.C. metro area. "
An initial appearance was scheduled in U.S. District Court in Baltimore at 2:00 p.m. Martinez appeared in U.S. District Court in Baltimore and was ordered held until a hearing Monday. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison on the weapon of mass destruction charge and 20 years on the attempted murder charge.
The target of the alleged plot was the Armed Forces Recruiting Center at 5439 Baltimore National Pike in Catonsville. The Recruiting Center was closed for the day.
The suspect was arrested at about 9:30 Wednesday morning according to witnesses at the shopping center where the recruiting center is located.
The recruiting center shares a parking lot with a small strip mall and a pair of big box stores.
The arrest was witnessed by several people in local businesses including Will Eckenrode, manager of a CarQuest auto parts store directly facing the recruiting center.
"We heard a big bang in the back and then saw agents in full tactical gear swarming all over the place," Eckenrode said. He did not know the source of the explosion but speculated it may have been a stun grenade used by authorities to take the suspect into custody.
"You see this in other parts of the country, but it really scares you when its right where you are," Eckenrode said. "A bomb over there could have done a lot of damage here as well."
White House spokesman Nick Shapiro said the arrest underscored the need for vigilance against terrorism and illustrates why the Obama administration is focused on addressing "domestic radicalization."
This is the second time in less than two weeks that an alleged homegrown terrorist was nabbed in a sting operation.