Former U.S. Army Enlistee Tried To Bomb Army Base In Kansas

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Apr 10, 2015 6:30 PM
Former U.S. Army Enlistee Tried To Bomb Army Base In Kansas

In an attempt to emulate the 2009 Fort Hood Shooting, John T. Booker Jr. also known as Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, was arrested by authorities near Manhattan, Kansas, according to CNN. According to the FBI press release, Booker was attempting to detonate a bomb on Fort Riley Army Base in the name of ISIS:

John T. Booker Jr., 20, of Topeka, Kansas, was charged in a criminal complaint unsealed today with one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction (explosives), one count of attempting to damage property by means of an explosive and one count of attempting to provide material support to the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL), a designated foreign terrorist organization. Booker is expected to make an initial appearance this afternoon before U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree of the District of Kansas in federal court in Topeka.

Booker was arrested this morning near Manhattan, as he completed his final preparations to detonate a vehicle bomb targeting U.S. military personnel.

“As alleged in the complaint, John Booker attempted to attack U.S. military personnel on U.S. soil purportedly in the name of ISIL,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin. “Thanks to the efforts of the law enforcement community, we were able to safely disrupt this threat to the brave men and women who serve our country. Protecting American lives by identifying and bringing to justice those who wish to harm U.S. citizens remains the National Security Division’s number one priority.”

“We face a continued threat from individuals within our own borders who may be motivated by a variety of causes,” said U.S. Attorney Grissom. “Anyone who seeks to harm this nation and its people will be brought to justice.”

“I want to assure the public there was never any breach of Fort Riley Military Base, nor was the safety or the security of the base or its personnel ever at risk,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Jackson. “Recently the Command Staff at Fort Riley has been working hand in hand with law enforcement to ensure the utmost security and protection for the men and women who serve our country, and the surrounding community that supports the base."

Booker is alleged to have spent months discussing multiple plans before deciding on a plan that involved the execution of a suicide bombing mission.

The complaint alleges Booker told another person “that detonating a suicide bomb is his number one aspiration because he couldn’t be captured, all evidence would be destroyed, and he would be guaranteed to hit his target.” Booker identified Fort Riley as a good target, “because the post is famous and there are a lot of soldiers stationed there,” the complaint alleges.

If convicted, Booker would face a maximum penalty of life in prison.

In all cases, defendants are presumed innocent until and unless proven guilty. The charges merely contain allegations of criminal activity.

CNN reported that Booker wanted to feel the “adrenaline rush” of sacrificing himself in a jihad. Since October of 2014, he had been working with “informants, who gave him nonexplosive material to make a car bomb:

Booker enlisted in the Army last year and was due to ship out to basic training April 7, 2014, said Army spokesman Wayne Hall. The criminal complaint said the FBI questioned him March 24, 2014 about comments posted on Facebook, such as, "Getting ready to be killed in jihad is a HUGE adrenaline rush. I am so nervous. NOT because I'm scare to die but I am eager to meet my lord."

Booker waived his Miranda rights and told the agents he enlisted to commit an insider attack against American soldiers like Maj. Nidal Hassan had done at Fort Hood, Texas, the complaint said. Hassan opened fire in a building in November 2009, killing 13 people and wounding more than 30.

His enlistment was terminated March 24, 2014, at the request of Army Criminal Investigation Command, Hall said.

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On March 9, Booker said he believed ISIS wanted him to commit a truck bombing in the United States and thought a good target would be nearby Fort Riley, a large Army base that's home to the 1st Infantry Division, known as "The Big Red One."

Booker acquired components for a bomb and rented a storage locker to store the components, the complaint said. The plan was for confidential informants to build a bomb and for Booker to drive to Fort Riley and detonate it, the complaint said. But the bomb was built with "inert" parts and would never explode, the complaint said.

On Friday, the informants and Booker drove to what Booker thought was a little-used utility gate near Fort Riley, the complaint said. While Booker was making final connections on the "bomb," the FBI arrested him.