A San Jose man was arrested today after authorities say he tried to detonate an explosive device at an Oakland bank.
Michael A. Llaneza, 28, was taken into custody Thursday evening after undercover agents say he tried to set off the bomb outside the Bank of America branch at 303 Hegenberger Road.
Llaneza made an initial appearance Friday morning in federal court in Oakland. His next scheduled appearance is a bail hearing on Wednesday morning.
Llaneza is charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction against property used in an activity that affects interstate or foreign commerce. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Authorities say Llaneza believed he was helping carry out an attack in conjunction with the Taliban. In reality, he was talking to undercover FBI agents.
Authorities say the incident began on Nov. 30 when Llaneza met with an undercover agent he believed was connected with the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Investigators say Llaneza proposed conducting a car-bomb attack against a bank in the Bay Area. He proposed structuring the attack to make it appear the responsible party was an umbrella organization for a loose collection of anti-government militias and their sympathizers.
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, authorities said.
Authorities say Llaneza and the undercover agent constructed an explosive device in January and early February at a storage facility in Hayward. The device was made inoperable by undercover agents.
On Thursday night, authorities said, Llaneza drove an SUV carrying the device to the outside of the Bank of America branch in Oakland. Once there, he reportedly walked a safe distance and met the undercover agent.
Investigators say Llaneza tried to detonate the device using a cellphone. He was then arrested by federal agents.