FBI: Man plotted suicide bomb attack at Kansas military base

Written by Muleskinner Staff

By HEATHER HOLLINGSWORTH

(KANSAS CITY, Kan., AP) โ€” A 20-year-old man accused of planning a suicide attack at Fort Riley was arrested Friday while trying to arm what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb near the Kansas military base as part of a plot to support the Islamic State group, federal prosecutors said.
John T. Booker, of Topeka, was scheduled to appear in federal court in Topeka later Friday. Prosecutors allege that he told an FBI informant that he wanted to kill Americans and engage in violent jihad on behalf of the terrorist group. Court documents allege he told the informant that attack was justified because the Quran “says to kill your enemies wherever they are.”
“It was alleged that he planned to pull the trigger of the explosives himself so that he would die in the explosion,” U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said during a news conference. “He told an individual that detonating a suicide bomb was his No. 1 aspiration because he couldn’t be captured and all the evidence would be destroyed and he would be guaranteed to hit his target.”
Grissom said Booker was arrested without incident near Manhattan, a city that borders Fort Riley about 100 miles west of Kansas City. The FBI said there was no breach at the base.
Court documents don’t indicate whether Booker has an attorney, and he didn’t have a publicly listed phone number.
Booker was recruited to join the Army in February 2014, but came to the attention of federal investigators after posting messages on Facebook. The FBI said a post on March 19, 2014, read: “Getting ready to be killed in jihad is a HUGE adrenaline rush! I am so nervous. NOT because I’m scared to die but I am eager to meet my lord.” His enlistment was terminated a few days later at the request of the Army Criminal Investigation Command, according to the Army.
Prosecutors said Booker started meeting with the FBI informant in October. He allegedly told the informant he wanted to make a video threatening Americans and warning them to get their relatives and friends to quit the military. He said his intent was to “scare this country” and to tell the people that, “we will be coming after American soldiers in the streets … we will be picking them off one by one,” according to the court documents.
Booker is charged with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to damage property by means of an explosive, and attempting to provide material support to the terrorist group. If convicted, he could face life in prison.
Grissom declined to take questions during the Friday morning news conference. His spokesman didn’t immediately respond to an email from The Associated Press asking about Booker’s religious background and when he may have become radicalized.
The FBI has focused attention in the last year on individuals who profess allegiance to the Islamic State and who either make plans to fight alongside jihadists in Syria or commit acts of violence in the United States. Other cases have involved current or former service members; last month, a U.S. Army National Guard soldier was charged in Illinois after trying to fly to Egypt.
“We face a continued threat from individuals within our own borders who may be motivated by a variety of reasons,” Grissom said during the news conference. “Anyone who tries to harm this nation and its people will be brought to justice.”
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Associated Press writers Bill Draper in Kansas City and Roxana Hegeman in Wichita contributed to this report.