A San Jose man who allegedly told an undercover FBI agent that he was hoping to trigger a civil war has pleaded guilty in federal court in Oakland to attempting to detonate a car bomb outside a bank. Matthew Llaneza, 29, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Yvonne Gonzalez Rogers on Thursday to one count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction against property used in interstate commerce. He will be sentenced by the judge on Feb. 27, 2014. Llaneza sought to detonate what he believed to be a bomb in an SUV outside a Bank of America branch in Oakland on Feb. 8, 2013, according to an FBI affidavit filed with a criminal complaint on that day. Unbeknownst to Llaneza, the purported bomb had been made inoperative by an undercover FBI agent who allegedly helped him construct the device and a cellphone trigger mechanism, according to the affidavit by FBI agent Christopher Monika. Monika wrote in the document that Llaneza began meeting with the agent the previous November and believed the agent was associated with the Taliban and the Muajadin in Afghanistan.
Monika alleged that Llaneza told the agent he hoped the bomb would spark a civil war by causing a government crackdown that would in turn result in a right-wing counter-response against the government “followed by, he hoped, a civil war.” Llaneza’s defense lawyer, Assistant Federal Public Defender Jerome Matthews, told a federal magistrate during a court hearing in March that Llaneza had “significant mental illness,” but said he was competent to stand trial.