FBI Arrests Army Soldier Who Discussed Plans to Bomb a Major News Network
|thenorthstar||Sep 25, 2019|
A US soldier was arrested by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) after allegedly planning to bomb a major American news network and reportedly distributing information online about how to build bombs. Army Spc. Jarrett William Smith allegedly wanted to target Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke.
Smith, who transferred to Fort Riley, Kansas in July, joined the armed forces after expressing his desire to fight in Ukraine, according to charging documents cited by ABC News. He also reportedly planned to travel to Ukraine in order to fight with the violent neo-Nazi paramilitary group Azov Battalion.
“To fight is what I want to do,” Smith allegedly wrote to a fellow extremist, according to the complaint cited by NPR.
The 24-year-old began communicating with fellow American, Craig Lang, in 2016, with Lang becoming a sort of “mentor” to Smith. Lang traveled to Ukraine and fought alongside the far-right group, the Right Sector, according to ABC News.
In December 2018, Smith reportedly had a Facebook group chat with Lang that touched on Smith’s ability to build explosives. “Oh yeah, I got knowledge of IEDs (improvised explosive device) for days,” Smith allegedly said. “We can make cell phone IEDs in the style of the Afghans. I can teach you that.”
The infantry soldier reportedly spoke to an FBI informant in an online chat group on August 19. Prosecutors said that Smith gave the informant tips on how to build bombs triggered by cell phones, the BBC reported.
“Be careful with the fully armed device,” he warned. “There have been cases where Middle Eastern insurgents built these bombs only for them to detonate prematurely because telemarketers with wrong numbers who unwittingly called the devices.”
During his discussion, he spoke openly about a plan to attack within the US on a major news network, the idea of killing members of Antifa, and his search for other “radicals” like himself.
“A large vehicle bomb. Fill a vehicle full of [explosives] then fill a ping pong ball with [commonly available chemical] via drilling then injection,” he allegedly told the informant while discussing the plan to attack a news network. “Put the ball in the tank of the vehicle and leave 30 minutes later, BOOM.”
About a month later, on September 20, Smith had a Telegram conversation with an undercover FBI agent. The agent asked, “You got anyone down in Texas that would be a good fit for fire, destruction and death?”
Smith allegedly responded: “Outside of Beto? I don’t know enough people that would be relevant enough to cause a change if they died.”
In a statement to ABC News, O’Rourke’s campaign said:
“Our team is in direct contact with the FBI regarding this case. This isn’t about any one person or one campaign, and we won’t let this scare us or cause us to back down in fighting for what’s right.”
Smith was arrested on September 21 and charged in Kansas with distributing information relating to weapons of mass destruction. He allegedly admitted to federal investigators that he provided people with instructions for building explosive devices online.
According to NPR, Smith was promoted last June from a private first class to the rank of specialist. Lt. Col. Terence M. Kelley confirmed to NPR that Smith was an active-duty soldier who joined the Army in Conway, South Carolina. Smith has never been deployed.
“These allegations violate our Army values so we take them very seriously,” Kelley wrote. The lieutenant colonel noted that military law enforcement assisted in Smith’s arrest.
If convicted, Smith faces up to 20 years in prison.
A new report by the Anti-Defamation League’s (ADL) Center on Extremism found that white supremacy is being weaponized and spread internationally. White supremacist ideology has been behind the surge of violence worldwide, the report found.
There has also been a rise in the exchange of racist and extremist ideas thanks to social networking sites and message boards on the internet, as well as in-person meet-ups.
“This networking online and in person emboldens them and gives them the impression that the white supremacist movement is thriving,” the report said. “This, in turn, encourages white supremacists to believe they have widespread credibility and support, while creating an international marketplace for their hateful ideas.”
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.