A 20-year-old Kansas man accused of planning a suicide attack at Fort Riley has waived his right to a detention hearing, meaning he’ll remain jailed on federal charges.
Federal prosecutors say John Booker Jr., of Topeka, was arrested Friday while trying to arm what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb near the Kansas military base. Prosecutors say he told an FBI informant that he wanted to kill Americans and engage in violent jihad on behalf of the Islamic State group.
The soft-spoken Booker made his first court appearance later Friday in Topeka. He answered basic questions and corrected the spelling of his alias, Muhammad Abdullah Hassan.
Prosecutors say they’ll take the case to a grand jury next week.
His public defender, Kirk Redmond, declined comment after the brief hearing.
A Topeka man is accused of trying to detonate a vehicle bomb at Fort Riley in an attempt to support terrorism by killing military personnel.
According to U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom’s Office, 20-year-old John T. Booker Jr. of Topeka was arrested as part of an FBI investigation. The device he used was, in fact, inert.
Booker was arrested Friday morning near Manhattan as he completed his final preparations to detonate a vehicle bomb targeting U.S. military personnel. He faces charges that include 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).
“We face a continued threat from individuals within our own borders who may be motivated by a variety of causes,” said U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom. “Anyone who seeks to harm this nation and its people will be brought to justice.”
“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.”
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.
Booker allegedly produced a propaganda video in which he told the American people to get their loved ones out of the military now because, “The Islamic State is coming for them. From inside, whether it be in their homes, whether it be on a base like this, whether it be in the recruiting stations, whether it be in the streets.”
It is alleged that since March 2015, Booker plotted to construct an explosive device for an attack on American soil. It is alleged he repeatedly stated that he desired to engage in violent jihad on behalf of the ISIL. Over a period of months he took a series of actions to advance the plots. As alleged in the complaint, Booker:
— Assisted in acquiring components for a vehicle bomb.
— Produced a propaganda video.
— Rented a storage locker to store components for the explosive device.
— Identified Fort Riley as the target.
— Talked about his commitment to trigger the device himself and become a martyr.
“I want to assure the public there was never any breach of Fort Riley Military Base. 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,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Eric Jackson.
FBI Evidence Response Teams are executing search warrants related to the case. If convicted, Booker would face a maximum penalty of life in prison.