Kansas man charged in Islamic State bomb plot expected to change plea

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 03, 2016 9:33 AM

By Kevin Murphy

(Reuters) - A Kansas man accused of plotting a suicide car bombing at a U.S. Army base in support of Islamic State is expected to change his not guilty plea in court on Wednesday.

John T. Booker Jr. of Topeka, who had tried to enlist in the Army, previously notified the U.S. District Court in Topeka that he intended to change his plea but the court filing did not say to what charges he would be pleading.

Booker, who was 20 years old when arrested in April 2015, was indicted on three criminal counts, including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to Islamic State. He could be sentenced to up to life in prison if convicted.

Booker, who is also known as Muhammad Abdullah Hassan, had arrived at Fort Riley near Manhattan, Kansas, with FBI informants to detonate what he did not realize was an inert bomb, according to prosecutors.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation began tracking Booker in March 2014 after he posted Facebook messages 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," according to a criminal complaint.

Booker told FBI agents after the Facebook postings that he had enlisted with the intent of committing an insider attack on U.S. soldiers like the 2009 shootings by Major Nidal Hassan at Fort Hood, Texas, according to the complaint. Booker was denied entry into the Army as a result and then came in contact unknowingly with an FBI confidential source in October 2014, the complaint said.

(Reporting by Kevin Murphy; Editing by Bill Trott)