UPDATE, APRIL 30, 12:25 P.M.: If the United Patriot National Front rally in Long Beach was called off before Sunday, would-be bomber suspect Mark Steven Domingo planned to target the March to End Sanctuary State in Huntington Beach on Saturday, according to federal authorities.
The UPNF rally never materialized, although counter-protesters showed up to Bluff Park instead. Anti-sanctuary marchers and pro-immigrant rights counter-protesters did make it to Surf City, but Domingo was arrested Friday night.
He was taken into custody after allegedly receiving what he thought was a live bomb from an undercover law enforcement officer at the Long Beach site, says the FBI, which notes an inert explosive device was actually exchanged and no one was ever in danger.
Domingo, who the feds have held since his arrest, served as an infantryman in the U.S. Army from November 2011 to February 2013, attaining the rank of private. He was assigned to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, before being deployed to Afghanistan from September 2012 to February 2013, according to the FBI.
He lived in Reseda with his aunt, grandmother and 22-year-old brother, James Domingo. The younger Domingo told reporters Monday that his brother converted to Islam late last year or early this year and that he attended a Reseda mosque that practices Sufism, a form of Islamic mysticism.
A statement from U.S. Attorney’s office in Los Angeles goes into greater detail about the events that led up to Domingo’s arrest .
According to the criminal complaint, Domingo posted an online video professing his Muslim faith on March 2, and the next day made another posting in which he said “America needs another vegas event” (referring to the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas, Nevada) that would give “them a taste of the terror they gladly spread all over the world.” Following an attack on a mosque in New Zealand on March 13, Domingo posted, “there mustbe retribution.”
In response to the postings, an FBI “confidential human source” (CHS) began an online conversation that resulted in a series of in-person meetings with Domingo. During the first meeting, on March 18, “Domingo discussed with the CHS different targets for an attack, including Jews, police officers, churches, and a military facility,” according to the affidavit.
It was during an April 3 meeting that Domingo allegedly expressed support for ISIS and said “if ISIS “came here,” he would swear allegiance to the terrorist group, according to the complaint, which cites April 19 as being the date the plan to target the Long Beach rally came into shape.
… Domingo arrived to a meeting with the CHS armed with an AK-47-style rifle “to show you that I’m serious,” according to the complaint. During that meeting, Domingo referenced the Boston Marathon bombing and asked the CHS to find a person to construct an IED that he said could cause 50 casualties.
During several of the meetings, Domingo urged the CHS to maintain secrecy, stating what they were discussing were “federal charges” and “We broke federal law,” according to the complaint.
As part of the plot, Domingo asked someone who actually was cooperating with the FBI as part of the investigation to find a bomb-maker, and the defendant last week purchased several hundred nails to be used as shrapnel inside the IED, according to the feds.
“Domingo said he specifically bought three-inch nails because they would be long enough to penetrate the human body and puncture internal organs,” the affidavit states.
After Domingo provided the nails to the undercover operative for use in the construction of the bomb, Domingo sent a message on Thursday indicating that the operation was to proceed, according to the affidavit. On Friday evening, the undercover operative delivered multiple inert devices, which Domingo believed were weapons of mass destruction. After inspecting the devices and travelling to a park in Long Beach to surveil the location of the planned attack, Domingo was taken into custody.
If convicted of providing and attempting to provide material support to terrorists, Domingo would face a statutory maximum sentence of 15 years in federal prison, according to the U.S. Attorney in LA.
David Israel Wasserman, Domingo’s public defender, argued in court Monday that Domingo was not a flight risk and that he could be safely confined to his home while he awaited trial. The judge ordered Domingo remain in jail, however.
“I’m extremely glad to be announcing that we interdicted a potential terrorist attack, rather than outlining the FBI’s response to yet another tragedy,” says Paul Delacourt, the Assistant Director in Charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles Field Office, in a statement. “At no time was the public in danger and there is currently no known threat to public safety. I’m very proud of the agents and officers assigned to the Joint Terrorism Task Force who diligently marshaled the resources of our law enforcement partners in a short period of time and in doing so, ensured the safety of Southern California residents.”
“We strongly value the inter-agency cooperation and information sharing that occurs on a daily basis regarding potential threats to our region,” stated Long Beach Police Chief Robert Luna. “I want to thank all of our partner agencies for their dedicated efforts on this extensive investigation and for ensuring that the City of Long Beach was not impacted by a significant act of senseless violence.”
ORIGINAL POST, APRIL 29, 2:14 P.M.: An Army veteran’s alleged plans to bomb a white supremacist rally in Long Beach Sunday were thwarted–and the Nazis he claimed to be targeting never showed up anyway.
That means, if the accused had succeeded, only counter-protesters who did converge on Bluff Park would have been the victims.
Federal agents on Friday arrested Mark Steven Domingo, a 26-year-old former infantryman who served in the Afghanistan combat zone. He is accused of providing material support to terrorists by planning since March to “manufacture and use a weapon of mass destruction in order to commit mass murder,” according to a federal criminal complaint filed by the U.S. Attorney in Los Angeles.
Domingo was in the final stages of planning the Bluff Park bombing as revenge for attacks on mosques in New Zealand that left 50 people dead last month, alleges FBI agent Tasha Coolidge, who claims the defendant bought parts, including nails, for an improvised explosive device (IED) that would be remotely triggered.
The federal affidavit further alleges that Domingo considered targeting Jews, churches and police officers before settling on the Long Beach rally, and that he might follow that up with attacks on a train or the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles (San Pedro).
The United Patriot National Front (UPNF) had planned an event at Bluff Park Sunday that it claimed was in support of freedom and free speech. The Facebook page for the event was later deleted, but opponents of white nationalism showed up anyway to stage an anti-hate rally.
A Southern Poverty Law Center report issued earlier this year linked the UPNF to a known violent white nationalist who attended the infamous Charlottesville rally. The UPNF denies being a white nationalist or supremacist group.
Domingo allegedly made some incriminating statements on government recordings. He is claimed to have expressed anger over the New Zealand attacks with, “these fuckers need to bleed.” After the informant cautioned him that any sort of retaliatory response would require planning, and then asked how many people the defendant would like to kill, Domingo is accused of replying “a group” before mentioning “Jews around this one street” where there is not a lot of parking, so they are forced to walk to their synagogue.
He is alleged in later conversations to have talked about starting small with one murder and then building up to a large-scale attack. Placing an IED on a Los Angeles-area freeway was one idea, and the Bluff Park rally came up after UPNF’s original plans received media coverage. “We’ll have to scope out the area,” Domingo is claimed to have said about the rally site. “We’ll have to keep up everyday updates about the rally, because at any point they could cancel it.”
As is always the case in downtown Long Beach, “Parking’s gonna be an issue,” Domingo is alleged to have said before suggesting, “We could do a hit and run […] We drive by, we empty a magazine or two. An AK. And we book it.”
The informant noted an IED would do more damage, and Domingo is alleged to have said one could be built before the rally. “[W]e can detonate it in a crowd,” the defendant allegedly said. “Which would be perfect.”
Confiding that he personally did not know how to make an IED, Domingo is claimed to have sought help from someone who “is not a snitch.” An IED left in a backpack that exploded at the rally would likely kill 20 to 30 people and injure around 50 more, Domingo allegedly estimated.
A day before the Long Beach gathering, dueling bands of protesters faced off just down the coast in Huntington Beach. Saturday afternoon’s “March to End Sanctuary State” began at the corner of Pacific Coast Highway and 2nd Street while, across the street from them, members of the Democratic Socialists of America, Indivisible OC and other groups mounted a counter-protest.
Shortly after the 2 p.m. start time, a marcher entered the counter-protesters’ area to vocally drive home his anti-immigration stance, which caused a fight to break out. Huntington Beach police say they made five arrests during 1 1/2 hours of dueling protests.
Matt Coker has been engaging, enraging and entertaining readers of newspapers, magazines and websites for decades. He spent the first 13 years of his career in journalism at daily newspapers before “graduating” to OC Weekly in 1995 as the paper’s first calendar editor. He went on to be managing editor, executive editor and is now senior staff writer.