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A 20-year-old Kansas man was arrested Friday morning after federal authorities say he plotted to detonate a car bomb at the Fort Riley military base in the name of ISIS.
But John T. Booker Jr., also known as Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, was using bomb material which he thought was explosive but was in fact inert, and provided by what turned out to be undercover FBI operatives, according to federal prosecutors.
Booker was charged 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 ISIS, the Justice Department said in a news release.
Booker, of Topeka, was arrested at 9 a.m. local time without incident near Manhattan, Kansas, just east of Fort Riley. Prosecutors claim he was making final preparations for setting off a bomb as part of a suicide mission against U.S. military personnel, according to a criminal complaint.
"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," FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Jackson said in a statement.
Officials said they believe Booker has mental health problems, and he once claimed he was captured by the FBI because he "was with" al Qaeda.
Booker tried a year ago to join the Army as part of his alleged plot to attack U.S. soldiers, officials said. About three weeks before he was to report for basic training, authorities say he posted a disturbing message on Facebook: "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."
Someone noticed the posting and the FBI was alerted. Prosecutors say he admitted writing it and told FBI agents that he enlisted in the Army so he could kill his fellow soldiers in a similar way as Maj. Nidal Hasan did at Fort Hood, Texas, in 2009. Booker allegedly told the agents that he had formulated several plans for waging violent jihad once he was in the Army.
After the Army decided it had no use for Booker, the FBI sent undercover operatives to talk with him over the next several months, the complaint said. They say Booker told them he wanted to make a car bomb to engage in "violent jihad on behalf of (ISIS)."
One of the informants provided Booker with information on how to build a bomb and the chemicals that would be needed. Booker then allegedly directed the informant to area retailers where he could buy the materials, made a propaganda video and said he wanted to attack Fort Riley, prosecutors said.
Booker was scheduled to appear in federal court in Topeka on Friday afternoon. If found guilty, he could face a maximum penalty of life in prison.
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