WASHINGTON/KANSAS CITY (Reuters) - A U.S. man was arrested on Friday for an alleged plot to explode a car bomb at the Fort Riley army base in Kansas as part of a suicide mission in support of the Islamic State militant group, the Justice Department said.
John T. Booker, Jr., 20, of Topeka, Kansas, was taken into custody this morning as part of a sting operation after he and two undercover FBI agents arrived at the military base to detonate what he did not realize was an inert bomb, prosecutors said.
If convicted, he faces up to life in prison. He is due to appear in U.S. federal court in Kansas this afternoon.
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."
He had enlisted into 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 by Major Nidal Hassan at Fort Hood, Texas, according to the complaint.
He was denied entry into the army as a result.
Since October, he 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 sheik planning terrorist attacks on the United States.
Booker planned to carry out a suicide bombing because it would ensure he would hit his mark and never be captured, court papers allege.
On March 10, Booker, accompanied by the two undercover agents, made an Islamic State propaganda video near Marshall Army Airfield at Fort Riley, prosecutors said. He made an additional video two days ago in front of what was, unbeknownst to him, a stack of inert explosive materials.
A lawyer for Booker could not be immediately identified for comment.
(Reporting by Lindsay Dunsmuir in Washington. Additional reporting by Jon Herskovitz. Editing by Lisa Lambert and Andre Grenon)