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Kansas man arrested for suicide car bomb plot against US military base in support of ISIS

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A Kansas man was arrested on Friday as part of an FBI sting operation in which he was plotting a suicide car bombing at Fort Riley army base in support of the Islamic State militant group, prosecutors said.

John T. Booker, Jr., 20, of Topeka, had arrived at the Kansas base with two undercover FBI agents to detonate what he did not realize was an inert bomb, prosecutors said.

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Booker was charged with three criminal counts including attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction and attempting to provide material support to Islamic State fighters, who have captured parts of Iraq and Syria over the past year and have sympathizers in several countries.

A second Topeka man, Alexander Blair, 28, was arrested and charged on Friday with failing to report a felony. Blair shared some of Booker’s views, knew of his intent to detonate a bomb at Fort Riley and loaned Booker money to rent a storage unit Booker used to store bomb components, prosecutors said.

According to the criminal complaint, the Federal Bureau of Investigation had been tracking Booker since March of last year when 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.”

Booker had signed up for the U.S. army in Kansas the previous month and when interviewed by FBI agents after the Facebook postings admitted he had enlisted “with the intent to commit an insider attack against American soldiers” similar to the attack carried out in November 2009 by Major Nidal Hassan at Fort Hood, Texas, the complaint said.

He was denied entry into the army as a result.

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Imam Omar Hazim of the Islamic Center of Topeka told the Topeka Capital-Journal newspaper he talked with Booker over the past year to help him “unravel some of the confusion,” adding that Booker battled with schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.

“He was getting some counseling, trying to understand,” Hazim, who said he also met with the FBI in regard to Booker’s statements, told the Journal. “Maybe he came to me too late, I don’t know.”

Since October, Booker had unknowingly been in contact with an undercover FBI agent and in March of this year was introduced to another undercover agent who posed as a high-ranking Islamic sheik planning attacks on the United States.

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On March 10, Booker, accompanied by the two undercover agents, made an ISIS propaganda video near Marshall Army Airfield at Fort Riley, prosecutors said.

Booker waived his right to a detention hearing on Friday, and is in custody pending trial.

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If convicted, Booker faces up to life in prison and Blair faces up to three years in prison. Lawyers for Booker and Blair could not be immediately identified for comment.

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(Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Mary Wisniewski, Andre Grenon, Grant McCool and Sandra Maler)


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Maddow destroys ‘bad faith’ complaints about impeachment from Republican Trump supporters

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The host of "The Rachel Maddow Show" on Friday blasted "bad faith" arguments from Republicans about the impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump.

Maddow recounted the process complaints by Republicans -- each of which has disappeared.

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She played a clip of former GOP Speaker Newt Gingrich on Fox News.

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Everyone is baffled by Trump’s rambling rant about flushing toilets ’10 times, 15 times’

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Another day, another truly baffling series of words coming from President Donald Trump’s mouth.

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Read the whole stream of consciousness rant to get a sense of what it was like:

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Adam Schiff pushes Pence to declassify aide’s secret information — implying it might be embarrassing or illegal

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House Intelligence Committee Chair Adam Schiff (D-CA) sent a letter on Friday to Vice President Mike Pence urging him to declassify the entirety of his Sept. 18 call with President Volodymyr Zelensky for use in the impeachment inquiry.

Though the vice president’s office, along with the rest of the administration, has stonewalled the impeachment inquiry’s requests for documents, Schiff’s committee obtained information about the Sept. 18 call through Jennifer Williams, a Pence aide who has already testified. Initially, Schiff explained, Williams testified about Pence’s call and did not assert that any part of it was classified. When she testified publicly, however, she said Pence’s office had since determined that the call was classified. She later sent the committee a “supplemental submission” after reviewing “materials” that refreshed her memory about the call — and it’s that supplemental submission that Schiff would like to see declassified.

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