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Florida Man Arrested in ISIS-Inspired Backpack Nail Bomb Plot, FBI Says

Harlem Suarez, 23, of Key West, allegedly wanted to obtain a backpack bomb full of nails and set it off on a Key West Beach, federal officials said.
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A Florida man has been charged with plotting to set off a backpack bomb at a beach after becoming inspired by the terrorist group ISIS, federal officials said Tuesday.

Harlem Suarez, 23, of Key West — who also called himself Almlak Benitez — was arrested Monday after he received what he thought was a working bomb but which was actually a phony device provided by the FBI, the feds said.

"I can go to the beach at night time ... put the thing in the sand ... cover it up ... so next day I just call and the thing is gonna, is gonna make ... a real hard noise from nowhere," Suarez allegedly told a confidential source about his alleged plan to detonate bomb that could be activated by a cell phone, according to a criminal complaint.

Suarez is charged with attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction against a person or property within the United States, federal prosecutors said.

Court documents say authorities were alerted by Facebook postings traced to Suarez that attempted to recruit people to join ISIS in committing violent acts.

In May, he made an online order for an AK-47 assault rifle, but it was never delivered, officials said.

Related: I Joined ISIS and It Ruined My Life, Captured Militant Says

Later that month, a source cooperating with the FBI helped Suarez make a video urging "Muslim brothers to buy AK's, knives and machetes and fight."

In early June, Suarez and two undercover operatives — people Suarez not know were working with the FBI — looked at July 4th events in Florida that could be attacked, the FBI said.

By July 19, Suarez had purchased two boxes of nails he wanted to be included in a bomb, but he said he didn't know how to build one or how to get explosives, the FBI said. He paid one of the undercover operatives $100, the FBI says, to build it for him.

Related: ISIS Is a Bigger Threat Than Al Qaeda, FBI Says

Suarez hoped to obtain a bomb that could be buried in a beach in Florida and detonated by cell phone, prosecutors said.

Suarez was arrested when the operative handed him an inert device said to be a bomb on Monday, the FBI said.