SJ man arrested in terror plot may need evaluation
SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- An accused bank bomber was back in court Thursday morning. Matthew Aaron Llaneza, 28, was arrested Friday after he allegedly tried to blow up the Bank of America on Hegenberger Road in Oakland.
On Friday when Llaneza was arrested, we had the case against him outlined in court documents. Now, civil rights attorneys, Llaneza's former defense attorney, and the Council on American Islamic Relations are all pushing back against the government's version.
We obtained a photo of Llaneza two years ago as he was booked into Santa Clara Jail. This past Friday Llaneza was arrested outside the Bank of America on Hegenberger Road, as he tried to blow up a car bomb that he had parked under the banks overhang.
Llaneza attorney came into court today to ask for more time so that he could research whether or not his client needed a psychiatric evaluation.
Thursday afternoon Llaneza's former defense attorney, Cameron Bowman, showed us documents from Llaneza's 2011 conviction for transporting an assault weapon -- a case where a psychiatrist reported Llaneza had serious mental problems.
"The judge ordered Mr. Llaneza to take his medications, to be seen regularly by a psychiatrist or a therapist," said Bowman.
In the most recent court documents, the undercover agent describes how he helped Llaneza carry out the plot to blow up the bank by providing buckets of fake explosives, and the SUV to transport them. And after Llaneza bought two cell phones, a nine volt battery and an LED light, the agency assembled the parts into what they told Llaneza was a triggering device.
By Skype from Philadelphia, the director of San Francisco-based Muslim Advocates law firm says the case raises serious questions.
"Is this smart a smart use of FBI resources to spend six months or a year convincing these impaired individuals to try and carry out these acts?" said Glenn Katon-Muslim Advocates Legal Director
Zahra Billoo is director of the Bay Area chapter of CAIR -- the Council on American Islamic Relations.
"How do we tell the community that the FBI is not surveilling all of them, when they're finding these needle in a haystack mentally incompetent people and then targeting them in this way?" said Billoo.
In court documents the FBI's undercover agent says the plot was Llaneza's alone and in similar cases courts have upheld the government's position. Private investigator Rick Smith, from Cannon Investigations, spent 26 years with the FBI.
"If he didn't have ties to Taliban and Al Qaeda, he is the copycat that wants to do something dramatic, symbolic and that's in itself a dangerous situation," said Smith.
Neither Llaneza's current defense attorney, nor the prosecutor in this bank bombing case would talk with ABC7 News. They'll be back in court reporting to the judge on March 8th.
FBI, taliban, san jose, oakland, terrorism, crime, bank of america, mental health, local news, mark matthews
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