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US man charged in California car bomb plot

The Bank of America logo is displayed on the side of a Bank of America branch office January 20, 2010 in San Francisco
The Bank of America logo is displayed on the side of a Bank of America branch office January 20, 2010 in San Francisco, California. The FBI arrested a California man on Friday after he tried to set off what he thought was a car bomb outside a bank, cappin

The FBI arrested a California man on Friday after he tried to set off what he thought was a car bomb outside a bank, capping a months-long undercover sting operation, federal authorities said.

Matthew Aaron Llaneza, 28, was charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction. He faces life in prison if convicted.

Federal agents arrested Llaneza in the early morning hours as he attempted to use a cellphone to detonate a bomb inside a sport utility vehicle parked at a Bank of America branch in Oakland, in the San Francisco Bay Area.

"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," the Federal Bureau of Investigation said.

Llaneza met in November with a man he believed was linked to the Taliban and other militants in Afghanistan, but who was in fact an undercover FBI agent, according to the affidavit.

In January and February, Llaneza and the undercover agent built the supposed bomb inside the SUV parked at a storage facility, according to the complaint.

Law enforcement had rendered the device inoperable, and the FBI stressed that it "posed no threat to the public."

Llaneza's next court date is a bail hearing set for Wednesday.

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