SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - A suspected terrorist was captured on newly released FBI surveillance video where he explained his plan for a series of Bay Area attacks.
Amer Alhaggagi will be sentenced Monday in federal court in San Francisco after pleading guilty for his role in plotting an elaborate scheme that he said would “redefine terror.”
An FBI investigation began in the summer of 2016 when agents flagged some of his online conversation and ahead of his sentencing, new details are emerging of how he planned to kill innocent people claiming he would leave behind “hundreds of bodies.”
First boasting in online chatrooms, Alhaggagi said he wanted to commit terrorist attack in the name of the Islamic State. He promised, according to court records, that if he succeeded the “whole Bay Area was gonna be in flames” beginning in the Berkeley Hills.
“I was just thinking about burning the hills because there’s a lot of trees and a lot of homes over there,” Alhaggagi told an undercover agent.
The video obtained by 2 Investigates is Alhaggagi detailing his plan to a person he thought was going to help but was actually a federal agent. He explained his conversations with members of ISIL in chat rooms.
“They are supposed to send me some files on how to create some bombs,” he said. “They asked me to take pictures here of the areas that I’m targeting and they wanted a video of me making bayya [oath of allegiance] and they said after that we can move forward.”
Alhaggagi was born in California to Yemeni parents. His father lived in the Bay Area and his mother in Yemen. He was shuffled back and forth and often left alone and seen as an outside, according to his attorney. He fell behind in school, had bad family relationships and was forbidden to have friends of his own so he turned to chatting online.
Court records show Alhaggagi accessed a bomb-making manual and told another FBI source, “I’m gonna place a bomb in a gay club. I’m going to tear up the city. My aim is to get 10 thousand people. I’m hitting up China Town, down towns, main streets, Mission Boulevard, every club and underground club in the city.”
“I’ve been so excited about it,” Alhaggagi told the informant. “I’ve been hyped up. Like, how I’m seeing it, we could get away so easily and if you want to plant a bomb and walk into a place with a bomb, you don’t even have to do it yourself. There are so many homeless people here that would do it for you, for like a dollar or something. I could tell them to walk into the YMCA with a bag and they’ll do it and we could detonate it from outside.”
Another one of his targets was the dorms at U.C. Berkeley where the goal appeared to be mass casualties by killing students.
Alhaggagi also applied for a job with the Oakland Police Department. He claimed if he couldn’t make bombs he would steal weapons from work. He also was often armed including the meeting with the undercover agent.
The suspected terrorist also planned to lace cocaine with strychnine or rate poison and then distribute it at clubs with an intent to kill hundreds.
Court records show he was also distributing ISIL propaganda by opening Twitter, Facebook and Gmail accounts on behalf of his terrorist brothers.
“I want to make it to the point where every American here thinks twice or three times before he leaves his home,” Alhaggagi said. “Like is it necessary for me to leave right now? That’s how I want them to be.”
After his arrest in 2016 for identity theft, agents found a suicide note explaining his complex terrorist operations calling them “good deeds.”
Prosecutors are asking he spend 33 years in prison followed by life on supervised release.
Alhaggagi’s attorney said in court records that he’s a man willing to engage in outlandish and foolish behavior and claimed he’s not a terrorist, not radicalized and no dangerous. There are claims he is remorseful and during his two years in jail has done some growing up.