KEY WEST (CBSMiami/AP) — A man convicted of plotting to set off a bomb on a crowded Key West beach is seeking leniency when he’s sentenced to prison.
Harlem Suarez, also known as “Almlak Benitez,” 25, intended to use a backpack bomb in an ISIL-inspired attack.
Evidence introduced at his trial claimed Suarez’s Facebook postings had extremist rhetoric and promoted ISIL. He reportedly told an FBI employee posing as an extremist that he wanted to make a “timer bomb.”
Other evidence showed Suarez bought items for the device which he planned to bury at the beach and detonate using a cell phone.
Suarez was arrested in 2015 after accepting an inert explosive device from an FBI employee posing as an extremist.
In January, a federal jury found Suarez guilty of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and providing material support to a terrorist organization. He faces up to life in prison.
In seeking a sentence less than that, Suarez’s attorney points to his client’s lack of previous criminal history and psychological issues. He also notes, according to court papers, that Suarez’s parents pressured him to reject a plea deal that carried a maximum 20-year prison sentence.
Sentencing is set for April 18th.
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