FORT RILEY, Kan. — A Kansas man who sympathizes with the barbaric Islamic group ISIS, which identifies itself as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, has been arrested on charges of conspiring to bomb a U.S. Army base.
John Booker, Jr., 20, of Topeka, was arrested on Friday after an undercover operation found that he had been plotting to detonate a car bomb at Fort Riley in a jihad suicide mission.
He had enlisted in the Army in February 2014, but after the FBI was tripped off about his alleged terrorist aspirations, Booker was discharged.
According to the federal complaint, Booker had told a friend “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.” He said that he chose Fort Riley “because the post is famous and there are a lot of soldiers stationed there.” Booker also cited that that the Koran “says to kill your enemies wherever they are.”
He is accused of constructing the explosive device beginning in March, obtaining the components for the vehicle bomb and renting a storage shed to store the parts. Booker also made a “martryr” video and hinted at his plans on social media.
“Getting ready to be killed in jihad is a huge adrenaline rush,” he wrote last month. “I am so nervous. Not because I’m scared to die but I am eager to meet my lord.”
But Booker didn’t know that two of the men he had been communicating with were FBI informants, and that the bomb he was constructing was actually inert. He was taken into custody after he drove a van with the device inside up to a gate that he thought led into Fort Riley.
Booker was charged on Friday with one count of attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, one count of attempting to damage property by means of an explosive and one count of attempting to provide material support to a terrorist organization.
“As alleged in the complaint, John Booker attempted to attack U.S. military personnel on U.S. soil purportedly in the name of [ISIS],” said Assistant Attorney General John 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.”
Alexander Blair, 28, of Topeka was also arrested Friday night for failure to report a felony. He is accused of knowing about Booker’s plan and loaning him money to rent the storage shed.
“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.”
As previously reported, James Comey, the director of the FBI, stated at a recent meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General (NAAG) that he believes ISIS sympathizers are present nationwide.
“Those people exist in every state,” he outlined. “I have homegrown violent extremist investigations in every single state. Until a few weeks ago there was 49 states. Alaska had none, which I couldn’t quite figure out. But Alaska has now joined the group, so we have investigations of people in various stages of radicalizing in all 50 states.”