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November 20, 2018

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Man accused of making bombs in Las Vegas during sting operation

An Arizona man who allegedly built improvised explosive devices last year in a Las Vegas condominium, in what turned out to be an FBI undercover operation, was arrested on Friday, according to federal court documents.

Ahmad Suhad Ahmad, who was born in 1988, was arrested in Tucson, Ariz., on a charge of distribution of information relating to explosives, destructive devices and weapons of mass destruction, law enforcement wrote in a complaint.

Ahmad, a U.S. citizen, had told a confidential source and that he learned how to make the explosives during the war in Iraq, noting that they were “easy to make,” documents show. The plan was to craft car-bomb-type explosives to use against an unidentified target in Mexico.

The devices were built on April 26, 2017, at an unspecified condo in Las Vegas, documents show. It wasn’t clear if the final devices were functional. Authorities didn’t specify Ahmad’s connection to the Iraq war.

"We look forward to our day in court," Ahmad's attorney, Walter Goncalves Jr., told The Associated Press. "Mr. Ahmad is presumed innocent and we look forward to defending him."

In late 2016, Ahmad told a confidential source that he’d learned the bomb-making craft, in which a cellphone with a removable battery would set off an explosion, authorities allege.

Several months later, in early April, Ahmad met with the source in the source’s apartment where the source asked him to show him how to make a bomb that was supposedly going to be set off in Mexico, documents show.

Ahmad agreed, authorities said. That month, Ahmad met several times with two confidential sources and FBI agents in Tucson to further discuss the alleged plan, documents show.

It wasn’t clear how authorities learned about Ahmad, but they were involved in the meetings beginning in early April 2017.

Between that time frame, Ahmad allegedly showed a source an image of explosive materials, which contained instructions in Arabic, telling the source that he would translate them to English, authorities said.

In another Tucson meeting, Ahmad met the source in that person’s vehicle and outlined what materials were needed, saying that he’d been “studying up on how to build the explosive,” authorities said.

Furthermore, Ahmad sent a text message to that person with a bomb recipe. The instructions were in Arabic, but they included steps on how to make a land mine, authorities said.

The plan kicked to high gear on April 19, 2017, when Ahmad met with a source and undercover federal agents in Tucson, where the suspect agreed to travel to Las Vegas to build a device, authorities said.

Days later, the group traveled to Las Vegas. Ahmad brought some devices, including a circuit tester, electrical tape, and tubes of Permatex epoxy adhesive, according to the complaint. The agents brought other unidentified supplies Ahmad had requested, authorities said.

Over several hours at the Las Vegas location, Ahmad built an explosive, telling an agent what he was doing, showing an agent how to connect “blasting caps” and where to place the C-4 explosive, authorities said. “Ahmad then guided the undercover agent on how to make the second device.”

“Once both devices were completed, Ahmad explained how they operated,” authorities wrote in the complaint.

The U.S. Attorney's Office, which is prosecuting Ahmad, and the FBI declined to comment, according to the AP.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.