Kansas man pleads not guilty to plot to bomb U.S. Army base

Reuters News
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Posted: Apr 21, 2015 3:07 PM

(Reuters) - A Kansas man accused of plotting a suicide car bombing at Fort Riley army base in support of Islamic State militants pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to federal charges that could bring a life sentence if he is convicted, according to court records.

John Booker, 20, of Topeka, Kansas, was indicted by a federal grand jury last week on charges of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to damage property by means of explosives and attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State.

Booker was arrested April 10 as part of a sting operation in which he went to Fort Riley with two undercover FBI agents to detonate what he did not know was an inert bomb, prosecutors have said.

He pleaded not guilty during an arraignment in U.S. District court in Kansas City, Kansas, before Chief Magistrate Judge James O'Hara, according to court records.

According to a criminal complaint, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been tracking Booker since he posted Facebook messages in March 2014 in which he said: "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."

Booker had signed up for the U.S. Army in February 2014 and told FBI agents who interviewed him after the Facebook postings that he had enlisted with the intent of committing an insider attack like the one against Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009. He was denied entry into the army as a result.

He had been in contact unknowingly with one FBI undercover agent since last October. Booker is being held pending trial.

(Reporting by David Bailey in Minneapolis; Editing by Lisa Lambert)