The short videos were sent to an FBI agent by a confidential informant. In the clips, a man in a black mask stands in front of an ISIS flag and outlines a brutal plot: He wants to copy the Boston marathon terrorists and detonate a bomb in Miami in the name of ISIS. The man says his motivation is simple: Donald Trump's policies have driven him to support the Islamist terrorists.
"The United States is the most terrorist country out there," the man says in the clip before railing against "this racist president, white supremacist who does not like Hispanics, who does not like Muslims, Chinese, Blacks — just his race."
The feds say they eventually watched as the man in the video — a 53-year-old Honduran citizen named Vicente Solano who lived in Miami-Dade County — assembled bomb parts and crystallized a plan: to blow up the food court at a Miami mall during "Black Friday" sales at the end of November.
Instead, FBI agents swooped in and arrested Solano, who faces federal charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. Solano's case echoes that of Harlem Suarez, a young Cuban-American from Key West arrested in 2015 for plotting to bomb a beach on the island — and, in fact, the feds say Solano mentioned Suarez as an inspiration for his plans.
But while Suarez's case was dogged by accusations that the young would-be bomber wasn't mentally competent and had been goaded into the plot by FBI informants, Solano's plans — at least as laid out by the FBI — seem more advanced by the time agents moved in to arrest him. And among the scores of Florida men who have been drawn to ISIS in recent years, Solano appears to be the first to reference Trump as a reason for joining the terror network.
The case against Solano moved rapidly. An informant brought him to the FBI's attention in late September, according to documents filed in Miami's federal courthouse yesterday.
The informant told agents he had received a series of three videos September 13 from Solano, who earned $13 an hour as a painter and had racked up only minor arrests for driving-related offenses. The videos showed that the Honduran national had gone all in with ISIS, the feds say.
In each video, Solano wore a black mask and shirt and railed against the United States and Trump in front of a black-and-white ISIS flag. Here's the full content of one of those videos, as transcribed in his charging documents:
l am here because l am a sympathizer of the lslamic group, ISIS. I like the force that it uses to attack. It does not allow itself to be defeated. On the contrary, it is growing more because of social media. W e must join the ISIS cause. lt's not just the middle-east anymore, it's not just the Muslims, now all the countries are joining this cause because we have opened our eyes. There is going to be a holy war, a holy war in the name of Allah in order to defeat all of these terrorist countries, such as the United States. lt is the main country. They are terrorists who have killed the most people and as often as it has wanted to in order to keep everything, in order to keep everything. And now, we have that racist president who is a supremacist, White, who does not like Blacks, does not like the Chinese, he does not like the Muslims. He doesn't like the Hispanics. He does not like anybody. They are indeed murderers, genocidists, invaders of this country who came to this country to kill all of the lndians. They abolished them , and now they're telling us to get out of here. They are the ones who have to leave. Fuck that. In the name of Allah and our leader, Abu, we are going to defeat you.
The informant met Solano September 30 at a coffee shop and grilled him about whether anyone knew about his plans. While a wire recorded the conversation, Solano said he had told no one and was ready to set off a bomb on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving, when large crowds would be at the mall.
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"Solano emphasized his attack desires by stating that he wants to 'set off a bomb and [has] the balls to do it,''' the feds write in their charging documents.
Solano later texted drawings he had made of the bomb and the parts he would need to build it. The pair later met again in a parking lot behind a Pollo Tropical near Tamiami Park, where the informant persuaded him to use a new burner phone, which the FBI had bugged. Solano insisted he was ready to plant the bomb — his reasons, according to the feds: He "took issue with foreign and domestic policies and described his feeling of exclusion that stem from his temporary immigration status."
Over the next weeks, Solano repeatedly met with undercover agents he believed were local ISIS contacts and plotted his attack. The plan came together last Friday: Solano assembled what he believed was a bomb, set the timer, and headed for the front door of the mall.
Before he reached the exit, a federal agent arrested him and removed the bomb, which was actually inert. Solano appeared briefly in federal court yesterday, where a judge ordered him held without bail and appointed him a public defender.