A 21-year-old man who pledged allegiance to the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) pleaded guilty to attempting to carry out a suicide car bombing on the Fort Riley Army base in Manhattan, Kansas, with what he believed to be 1,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate, announced the Department of Justice (DOJ).
John T. Booker, Jr., of Topeka, Kansas, admitted he attempted to enlist in the U.S. Army in an effort to emulate Nidal Hasan, the military psychiatrist behind the deadly 2009 shooting rampage at Fort Hood, Texas.
However, his plans were thwarted when the Army denied him entry.
“You sit in your homes and think this war is just over in Iraq,” Booker declared in a video he intended Americans to see after his suicide attack. “Today we will bring the Islamic State straight to your doorstep.”
He pledged allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in a video he filmed at Freedom Park near the Marshall Army Airfield at Fort Riley in March 2015.
“That month, he rented a storage unit in Topeka where the bomb would be assembled,” notes DOJ.
The bomb the defendant constructed was a dud, made with inert materials provided by undercover FBI informants.
“He was arrested when he made the final connections on the device that he believed would arm the bomb,” reports DOJ.
On Wednesday, he pleaded guilty to one count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and one count of attempted destruction of government property by fire or explosion, before U.S. District Judge Carlos Murguia of the District of Kansas. He is facing 30 years in federal prison.
“In his guilty plea, Booker admitted he intended to kill American soldiers and to assist ISIL’s fight against the United States. His plan called for constructing a bomb containing 1,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate,” revealed DOJ. “Booker intended to trigger the bomb himself and die in the process, and filmed a video he intended Americans to see after his death.”
In a March 2014 post on his Facebook page, Booker said he wanted to commit jihad, prompting the FBI to investigate him.
“In October 2014, Booker began communicating with an undercover FBI informant,” explains DOJ. “He told the undercover FBI informant that he dreamed of being a fighter in the Middle East, and proposed capturing and killing an American soldier.”
“In March 2015, Booker was introduced to another FBI informant who he believed would help him plan an attack. Booker said he wanted to detonate a suicide bomb because he couldn’t be captured, all the evidence would be destroyed, and he would be guaranteed to hit his target,” added the department.
The defendant and the FBI informants drove to an area close to Ft. Riley where Booker believed he would be able to enter the military base undetected.
“John Booker admitted that he intended to kill U.S. military personnel on American soil in the name of ISIL,” said Assistant Attorney General Carlin, adding:
Thankfully, law enforcement was able to safely identify and disrupt this threat to the brave men and women who risk their lives to defend our country. The National Security Division’s highest priority is countering terrorist threats and protecting American lives by holding accountable those who plot to attack us.
“If this defendant had succeeded, American soldiers would have died,” said U.S. Attorney Grissom. “The investigators and the attorneys who worked on this case were our line of defense against terrorism. They kept us safe.”