A Miami man accused of trying to bomb the Dolphin Mall after allegedly being inspired by Islamic extremists made his first appearance in federal court Monday.
Vicente Adolfo Solano, 53, appeared before a judge to face a federal charge of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction.
The judge appointed an attorney for Solano, who works as a painter and doesn't own property or have any assets.
Solano was arrested outside the mall on Friday following an undercover operation by an FBI-led Joint Terrorism Task Force, according to a criminal complaint released Monday.
The investigation began in late September after an informant said Solano had "become increasingly upset with the policies of the United States government and its activities throughout the world," the complaint said.
Solano was planning to strike at the mall on Black Friday, Nov. 24, the day after Thanksgiving and one of the busiest shopping days of the year, the complaint said.
Authorities said Solano made pro-Islamic State videos before planning the attack, which included detonating a weapon of mass destruction, the complaint said.
In the videos that Solano sent to the informant, he spoke in Spanish and wore a black mask while standing in front of an ISIS flag, the complaint said.
"I love that there is going to be a holy war," he said in one video. "The United States is the most terrorist country of them all."
Solano also referenced the 2013 Boston Marathon bombing and Harlem Suarez, who received life in prison for a failed plot to set off a bomb on a crowded Key West beach, according to the complaint.
"I am going to plant a bomb like in-like in Boston, in the name of Allah," Solano said, according to the complaint. "Like in Boston, like Suarez wanted to do in the Keys, that's how they're going to get it, and even worse."
Solano later met with undercover agents and "described his feeling of exclusion that stems from his temporary immigration status," the complaint said.
He also said he had gone to the mall to look for a spot to plant the bomb, and said he was considering the food court or an area where people sing.
"Those are the areas where more people gather," he told one undercover agent, according to the complaint.
Solano said he would plant the bomb in luggage and leave, and said the day of the attack didn't matter, "as long as there is [sic] a lot of people," the complaint said.
On Friday, Solano met with the undercover agents at a hotel, where they put the device together. Solano practiced arming the device, which was inert and could never actually explode, the complaint said.
Solano and one of the agents drove to the mall, where Solano took steps that he believed would arm the device, and the timer began to count down, the complaint said.
When Solano got out of the car and approached the mall entrance, he was taken into custody.
Solano remained in federal custody Monday. His detention hearing will take place Thursday, and his arraignment was set for Nov. 6.
Sweetwater police were at the mall when Solano was arrested, backing up the federal agents. Officials said shoppers were never in danger.
"We are aware statistically that Dolphin Mall is one of the three largest venues in the state of Florida and we take measure to ensure that there's enough police visibility and proactive work being done there," Sweetwater Police Chief Placido Diaz said.
"While Dolphin Mall regularly partners with local and federal law enforcement agencies to ensure the safety of our customers, it is inappropriate for us to comment on this case due to the ongoing FBI investigation," the mall said in a statement Monday.
Solano lives in Sweetwater. Neighbors said he is from Honduras and rented a room at a townhouse for years.
Records showed he has a long list of minor crimes in his background, including 47 traffic citations, a misdemeanor assault arrest, and a failure to appear in court for driving with a suspended license.