After a two-month undercover sting operation, police arrested Vicente Adolfo Solano, 53, in a terrorist plot to place an explosive device in a crowded area of a popular mall in Miami, Florida.
Solano is described as a citizen of Honduras who has been living and working in Miami as a painter making $13 per hour. He has a minor criminal record, including two instances of driving with a suspended license in the last four years. Solano is an ISIS sympathizer and made it clear he hates the United States.
He was first tracked by the FBI in late September when a confidential informant told agents of Solano’s plans. Three videos were intercepted during the operation, one in which Solano dressed in black, stood before an ISIS flag, and stated:
“I am here because I like the way that ISIS confronts the United States and the countries of the coalition. They’re strong. It’s a group that is growing in social media. I love that there is going to be a holy war....
“The United States is the most terrorist country of them all. It invades when it wants to and when it’s convenient for them. That is why I am joining the Islamic group, the holy war, in the name of Allah, of our leader Abu.”
The FBI is searching for links with established ISIS cells, but so far, have found none. Solano told the undercover informant that he had discussed his plan with no one else. The New York Post describes the suspect’s plans:
His plans started to come together in October when the confidential informant introduced Solano to an undercover FBI employee who could supposedly help build a bomb. Solano provided a sketch of the food court at the mall, which he thought would be most crowded, according to the FBI.
“It’s easy because look … I go in, I sit down, I leave it and goodbye. I leave it. I won’t have a problem with that,” Solano said in one conversation recorded by the FBI.
After buying screws and other materials to build the bomb, Solano met with the two undercover FBI men at a hotel to put it together. Then the three of them drove over to the mall, where “Solano took steps that he believed would arm the device and the timer to count down” on the fake bomb, the affidavit said.
The Miami Herald added: “Solano discussed buying materials for a pressure cooker bomb, placing it in luggage and detonating the device at a food court with a cellphone, the affidavit said. He further discussed making a sketch of the targeted area, wearing a disguise and hiding the bomb in a shopping bag.”
Solano wanted to plant the bomb on the upcoming Black Friday — the busiest day of the Christmas shopping season.
“What I want to achieve is to send a message,” he said on a recording. “Because I have wanted to do it, because I have resentment inside, to demonstrate to [the United States].”
FBI operatives helped Solano build the bomb, which was made inert, and the suspect practiced arming it several times. He was arrested Friday night after approaching the mall with what he thought was an armed explosive device, ready to carry out his attack earlier than planned. Solano now faces life in prison.