KANSAS CITY, Kan. – A Topeka man has been charged in federal court in Topeka with attempting to detonate a vehicle bomb at the Fort Riley military base near Manhattan, U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom, District of Kansas, and Assistant Attorney General for National Security John P. Carlin announced today. The defendant was arrested as part of an FBI investigation, and the device used by the defendant was, in fact, inert.
John T. Booker, Jr., 20, Topeka, was charged in a criminal complaint unsealed today 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 the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) Booker is expected to make an initial appearance at 2:30 p.m. today before U.S. District Judge Daniel Crabtree in federal court in Topeka.
Booker was arrested this morning near Manhattan, Kan., as he completed his final preparations to detonate a vehicle bomb targeting U.S. military personnel.
“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.
On Friday, Booker was arrested without incident near Manhattan, Kan., as he undertook preparations for the execution of his plan.
“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.
The investigation was conducted by the FBI Joint Terrorism Task Force, including members from the FBI’s Kansas City Division, the Topeka Police Department and the Kansas Highway Patrol
The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Tony Mattivi, Assistant U.S. Attorney David Smith, and Trial Attorneys Josh Parecki and Rebecca Magnone of the National Security Division’s Counterterrorism Section.