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Veteran convicted in thwarted Long Beach terror plot to use nail bomb

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore
LAPD Chief Michel Moore in 2019 discusses the arrest of Mark Steven Domingo on suspicion of plotting terrorist attacks.
(Dania Maxwell / Los Angeles Times)

A U.S. Army veteran who wanted revenge for attacks on Muslims around the globe and was alleged to have planned to detonate a bomb at a Long Beach rally was convicted Wednesday of the attempted mass casualty attack.

Mark Steven Domingo, 28, of Reseda was found guilty by a federal jury of providing material support to terrorism and attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. He faces a potential life sentence in federal prison at his Nov. 1 sentencing. He has been in federal custody since his arrest in April 2019.

Domingo was arrested after he took delivery of what he thought was an improvised explosive device from an undercover law enforcement officer posing as a bomb maker, officials said.

According to the evidence presented in his case, Domingo considered “various attacks — including targeting Jews, churches and police officers” before he decided “to detonate an IED” at a rally scheduled to take place in Long Beach in 2019.

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As part of the plot, Domingo asked his confederate — who was cooperating with the FBI as part of the investigation — to find a bomb maker, and Domingo then purchased several hundred nails to be used as shrapnel inside the explosive device, according to officials.

Federal prosecutors said he referenced the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing while asking the FBI informant to help him get access to similar pressure-cooker bombs that he hoped would kill and maim dozens.

“Domingo said he specifically bought 3-inch nails because they would be long enough to penetrate the human body and puncture internal organs,” an agent swore under oath in seeking his arrest.

John Demers, the then-assistant attorney general for the Justice Department’s national security division, said Domingo wanted to use components that “would make the bombs even more deadly to the victims he targeted.”

Prosecutors said Domingo sought retribution for the March 15, 2019, attacks on New Zealand mosques and was willing to die a martyr.

“There must be retribution,” he said in an online post.

A mug shot
Mark Steven Domingo was arrested after he took delivery of what he thought was a live bomb, authorities said.
(FBI)

In a series of posts, Domingo also said he hoped another event similar to the 2017 slaughter at the Route 91 Harvest festival in Las Vegas might “kick-off civil unrest” in the U.S.

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“It’s not about winning the civil war; it’s about weakening America and giving them a taste of the terror they gladly spread all over the world,” he wrote.

The rally that Domingo targeted was called the United Patriots National Front and was set to take place in Bluff Park.

But members of the group, which local activists have described as affiliated with white nationalism, did not show up. Instead, about 200 counter-protesters populated the park, but there were no arrests or injuries.

Domingo’s “back-up plan” was to target a demonstration against California’s so-called sanctuary state law, which took place in Huntington Beach.

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After federal authorities saw Domingo’s extremist comments online, an informant made contact with him. During a drive on March 18, Domingo pointed out possible targets, including “police cars, churches and a National Guard Armory,” to the person he believed to be his co-conspirator, FBI Special Agent Tasha Coolidge said.

The veteran said he didn’t plan on getting away: “Martyrdom, bro.”

Domingo talked about using guns to conduct an attack, according to officials, but the confidential informant suggested he knew someone who could make explosives.

“That is even better,” Domingo said, according to court records.

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Court records went on to detail an April 3 meeting, during which Domingo proposed killing police officers and military service personnel in Los Angeles. According to the complaint, he said he wanted to carry out a large-scale attack, possibly involving an explosion on a freeway that would leave “hundreds and maybe thousands of U.S. citizens injured.”

”And then what?” the informant asked.

“Then the fun starts,” Domingo is said to have replied.

According to the affidavit, on April 19, the Army veteran’s talk escalated, and he arrived at a meeting with the informant wearing camouflage pants and holding a backpack with an AK-47-style rifle. He said he was prepared to commit jihad.

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After discussing carrying out a drive-by shooting using the assault rifle, officials said, Domingo ended up planning to target the rallies. Worried those events might be canceled, he also considered blowing up the Santa Monica Pier because it would be crowded, according to documents.

When the informant told Domingo the Long Beach rally would happen, he proceeded with a plan to plant bombs there, authorities said.

On April 26, 2019, Domingo received what he thought were two live bombs but were actually inert explosive devices delivered by an undercover law enforcement officer. He was arrested that same day with one of the bombs in his hands.

Times staff writer James Queally contributed to this report.


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