Kansas man pleads guilty to helping with foiled bomb plot at U.S. base

Reuters News
Posted: May 23, 2016 5:02 PM

(Reuters) - A man accused of assisting in a foiled bomb plot at a Kansas military base as part of what prosecutors said was an attempt to demonstrate support of the Islamic State militant group pleaded guilty on Monday to conspiracy.

Alexander Blair, 30, of Topeka, Kansas, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy for helping his friend, John Booker Jr., store equipment to make a bomb to kill American service members, prosecutors said in a statement.

According to court documents, Blair admitted to lending Booker $100 for a storage unit to hold components for a bomb that he knew Booker planned to detonate at the Fort Riley military base, about 60 miles from Topeka.

An attorney for Blair could not be immediately reached for comment.

Booker, 21, made statements on Facebook and to FBI agents that he wanted to join Islamic State and kill people and was willing to die in the process, the documents said. He was arrested on April 10 in 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.

Booker pleaded guilty to one count each of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to destroy government property with an explosive, according to court documents. He is awaiting sentencing, but has agreed to spend 30 years in prison in the plea deal.

According to court documents, Blair and Booker shared extremist views in support of Islamic State and against the U.S. military.

After Booker was arrested, FBI agents questioned Blair, who admitted lending Booker the money and said he knew about his plans. He said he had not called police because he thought they were already under surveillance and would be eventually stopped.

Blair is set for sentencing on Aug. 23. He faces a maximum penalty of five years in federal prison, prosecutors said.

(Reporting by Justin Madden in Chicago; Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Peter Cooney)