Florida man inspired by ISIS planned to detonate bomb on beach – FBI
Following his arrest on Monday, 23-year-old Harlem Suarez, a native of Key West, Florida, was charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction against a person or property within the United States, the Justice Department stated.
“Stopping attacks on our homeland by those inspired or directed by designated foreign terrorist organizations is the highest priority of the National Security Division,” said Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin in a statement.
Suarez, also known as Almlak Benitez, was first noticed by the FBI in April 2015 as he posted Facebook messages with “extremist rhetoric” sympathizing with the Islamic State (IS, also known as ISIS/ISIL). One message even requested advice regarding how to make a bomb, the Guardian reported.
“Be a warrior, learn how to cut your enemies head and then burn down the body learn how to be the new future of the world Caliphate,” another post read.
During the FBI’s investigation of Suarez, a confidential source spent months communicating with the Florida suspect as he outlined his desire to carry out an attack in the US. He also recorded an ISIS recruitment video, the FBI told ABC News.
“We will destroy America and divide it into two. We will raise our black flag on top of your White House and any president on duty,” Suarez allegedly said in the video, referring to the black flag IS militants fly over the territory they have captured in the Middle East.
Specifically, Suarez allegedly told the FBI informant he wanted to make a “timer bomb,” one which held galvanized nails and could be buried in the sands at a public beach in Key West. The bomb would have been detonated wirelessly via a cell phone.
According to the ABC News, Suarez allegedly gave $100 to the FBI informant in order to build the bomb.
“I can go to the beach at night time ... put the thing in the sand ... cover it up ... so next day I just call and the thing is gonna, is gonna make ... a real hard noise from nowhere,” Suarez allegedly told the source in a phone call, according to a criminal complaint cited by NBC News.
Officials said Suarez also ordered an AK-47 online in May but that the order was never filled.
While Suarez was tagged for his Facebook posts, there’s no evidence that he was actually in communication with any IS members.
The arrest is the latest in a string of busts by law enforcement. Nearly a dozen people were arrested in connection with ISIS-inspired attacks in the lead-up to Independence Day on July 4, with the FBI claiming that its actions had helped prevent an attack from taking place.