FBI agent Benjamin Trentlage said that Mahin Khan, 18, who has been charged with plotting a terrorist attack on a motor vehicle office in metro Phoenix and instructed undercover FBI informants on building homemade grenades, told an undercover FBI agent that he wanted to attack a Jewish community center in his hometown, AP reported Wednesday.
Trentlage testified that Khan expressed a desire to attack the Jewish community center in October 2015, in conversation with an undercover FBI informant. According to Trentlage, Khan wanted to use pressure cookers to make homemade bombs, inspired by the Boston Marathon bombings.
On the day of his arrest, Khan left a voicemail for an undercover FBI informant expressing his admiration for the attack that killed 49 in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Trentlage testified. The FBI has charged that Khan wanted to inspire an Islamist insurgency in the US to carry out attacks similar to the ones in Paris and Brussels, and communicated online with a member of ISIS and with a Pakistani Taliban, requesting weapons and instructions on homemade explosive. But it isn’t clear whether those really were members of the two groups.
According to Trentlage, Khan described the Motor Vehicle Department in Mesa, Arizona as a soft target, saying “it would have a lot of people and relatively low security.” Khan preferred that office over a DMV office in Tucson because the sheriff’s office was located nearby.
Agent Trentlage testified on Tuesday at a bond hearing for Khan, who pleaded not guilty to charges of terrorism, conspiracy to commit terrorism and conspiracy to commit misconduct involving weapons. Khan was denied bail following his July 1 arrest. His bond hearing continues on Wednesday, when his attorneys will probably question the FBI agent.