A US Army veteran from Reseda was sentenced Monday to 25 years in prison for plotting to detonate a bomb during a political rally in Long Beach in connection with a foiled terrorist attack.
U.S. District Judge Steven V. Wilson rejected prosecutors’ request for a life sentence for 28-year-old Mark Steven Domingo, who was convicted during his trial in August for attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and material support to terrorists.
Prosecutors told Wilson that Domingo wanted the aborted April 2019 bombing to avenge the killing of 51 people in mosques in New Zealand “and stir up terror, chaos and civil unrest that would weaken states. -United and would help ISIS and other jihadist groups to spread.
“His clear intention was to intimidate this nation and the world, and he sought to influence world events and the conduct of the United States government through this intimidation,” said US aide Attys. Reema M. El-Amamy and David T. Ryan told the judge in a sentencing note.
Domingo had repeatedly expressed his desire to kill Jews, Christians, police, military and others, they said.
From May 2017, they said, Domingo began sharing private messages on Facebook “regarding his support for ISIS, his hatred of Jews and his desire to carry out massive attacks,” prosecutors said. In March 2019, he wrote in an invitation-only online chat room about the conduct of a mass attack similar to the fatal October 2017 shooting on 59 people at an outdoor concert in Las Vegas, they declared.
An FBI agent working undercover noticed Domingo’s messages about the attack in New Zealand and struck up a conversation with him that led to an undercover operation in which Domingo expressed interest in the attacks on the gun and eventually agreed to detonate an improvised explosive device at the planned rally in Long Beach, according to the government.
As part of the plot, Domingo purchased several hundred nails to use as shrapnel inside the IED, and he believed that a cohort – who was in fact an FBI informant – was finding a maker of bombs that could use them, authorities said.
Domingo was arrested in April 2019 after taking delivery of what he believed to be the IED of an undercover law enforcement agent posing as the bomb maker, the government said.
The rally targeted by Domingo was organized by a group called the United Patriots National Front. It was going to take place at Bluff Park in Long Beach, police said. The group did not show up, but around 200 counter-protesters did. No incident has occurred.
“Mr. Domingo represents the very real threat posed by local violent extremists in the United States,” said Kristi K. Johnson, deputy director in charge of the FBI’s Los Angeles field office.
Domingo’s lawyer, public defender David I. Wasserman, had urged Wilson to impose a prison sentence of up to 15 years. Domingo had a difficult childhood in the San Fernando Valley, he argued. His father died of stomach cancer when Domingo was 5, and the boy suffered from chronic depression, struggled to make friends and was neglected by his mother, the lawyer said.
When Domingo graduated from high school in 2011, he joined the military and then served as an infantryman in Afghanistan. In the military, Domingo “hoped to find a place where he could vent his anger,” Wasserman wrote, but instead was “hazed in basic training” by platoon mates who viewed him. like “slower than everyone else”.
Domingo was “shot by Taliban fighters”, the lawyer said, but within his own platoon he was “disciplined, criticized and ostracized”. He wrote down the names of his fellow soldiers, ex-girlfriends and others whom he felt wronged on his rifle ammunition, which led to his release from the military, the lawyer said.
For a time, Domingo has partnered with right-wing communities on Facebook and 4chan, platforms that advocate and condone “offensive views and statements,” Wasserman said. He then began to study Islamic history. He had been “virulently anti-Islam,” but ended up identifying with the victimization of Muslims, he said.
Domingo “espoused violent and offensive statements – consistent with his long-standing anger and self-hatred. But he also made it clear that he was sad, depressed and felt like he had no reason to live, ”Wasserman wrote.
Wasserman also shared with the judge some comments from Domingo, who has been in jail since his arrest in April 2019.
“In prison, I managed to improve my social skills,” Domingo told his lawyer, according to the newspapers. “I learned how and how human friendships are built, a skill that I was never allowed to learn in my past. I learned that my conduct in the outside world was not the way a man is expected to behave throughout life. I’ve learned that innocent people don’t have to die just because I’m having a bad day.
Domingo’s lawyer argued that the FBI had tricked him into an undercover operation to commit a more serious crime – an attempt to use a weapon of mass destruction – than he was predisposed to commit . Domingo has repeatedly expressed interest in shooting people, but the idea for an IED came from a government informant, ”Wasserman said.