Attorney to review surveillance of man charged in bomb plot

Author: associated press

MIAMI (AP) – A bail hearing was postponed Monday for a Florida Keys man described by the FBI as an Islamic State sympathizer who plotted to detonate a backpack bomb at a beach.

Defense Attorney Richard Della Fera said he asked for the delay so that he could review U.S. government surveillance of his client, Harlem Suarez of Key West.

Suarez, 23, remains jailed on charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction. He faces up to life in prison if convicted.

U.S. authorities have said Suarez, who came to Florida with his family from Cuba in 2004, made Facebook posts containing extremist rhetoric and praising the Islamic State group.

Della Fera told reporters outside the Miami federal court that many of the Facebook posts had been copied and pasted from other people’s posts expressing a point of view sympathetic to the Islamic State group.

Suarez never was a danger to anyone, nor was he affiliated with any terrorist organization, Della Fera said.

“What I’ve observed is a young man very immature for his age, who has a low intellect. That plays into what happened to him in a very large measure,” he said.

Suarez became obsessed with media reports that sensationalized the Islamic State group, the attorney said.

According to a criminal complaint, Suarez told an FBI informant he wanted to make a bomb, bury it on a Key West beach and detonate it. He was arrested last week after taking possession of an inert explosive device provided by an FBI informant. Suarez had given the informant some bomb supplies, including two boxes of galvanized nails, the backpack and a cellphone to be used as a detonator, according to the complaint.

Della Fera said an undercover U.S. agent asked Suarez to buy the nails.

Suarez was being monitored for months by U.S. authorities and never made an actual explosive, and there was no indication in the FBI complaint that he had contact with any Islamic State militants overseas.

The FBI said Suarez also sought to make an Islamic State recruitment video using a script he wrote himself. It eventually was made under FBI surveillance at a motel in Homestead, according to the complaint, with Suarez dressed in a black tactical vest, black shirt, mask and yellow-and-black scarf.

Della Fera said Suarez never recruited anyone for the alleged plot, and he will undergo a mental health evaluation.

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