TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) – A federal grand jury handed down a three-count indictment Thursday charging a 20-year-old Kansas man with trying to carry out a suicide attack at Fort Riley.
John T. Booker Jr. of Topeka had been arrested Friday while trying to arm what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb inside a van near the Army post an hour west of Topeka, according to court documents. A second Topeka man, who was charged later that day with knowing about Booker’s plan but failing to report him to authorities, was ordered released into his parents’ custody Thursday.
Prosecutors allege Booker told an FBI informant he wanted to kill Americans and engage in violent jihad on behalf of the Islamic State terrorist group, and said he believed such an attack was justified because the Quran “says to kill your enemies wherever they are,” according to a criminal complaint.
The indictment handed down Thursday charges Booker with attempting to use a weapon of mass destruction, attempting to damage property by means of an explosive, and attempting to provide material support to the terrorist group.
If convicted, Booker could face life in prison. A spokesman for U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said Booker was being held without bond pending trial.
Hours after Booker was arrested near the Army base, Alexander E. Blair, 28, of Topeka, was charged with failing to report Booker’s plans to authorities. He allegedly lent money to Booker to rent storage space for the bomb, according to the complaint.
A judge decided Thursday to release Blair to his parents’ custody in the Topeka area, which is expected to happen by Monday. Blair, who appeared in court wearing a T-shirt, camouflage pants and sandals, will be forced to wear a GPS device and may leave the house only to go to work and a few other exceptions.
Jane Blair, his mother, told the court that they accepted the responsibility of supervising him.
“We never have any trouble with him doing what we ask of him when he is in our house,” she said.
Blair’s attorney, Christopher Joseph, said after the hearing that his client has fully cooperated with the investigation thus far and it would have been unusual to remand him to federal custody given the charge against him.
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