In April 2015, 20-year-old John T. Booker Jr. was arrested after he attempted to build a bomb made with inert materials provided by the FBI. Booker, also known as Mohammed Abdullah Hassan, believed he was building a 1,000-pound car bomb to attack Fort Riley, Kansas.
Booker was unaware that the bomb was fake and the two men he believed were working with Daesh (ISIS) were actually FBI informants. Booker recently plead guilty to attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and attempted destruction of government property by fire or explosion and now faces 30 years in prison.
“If this defendant had succeeded, American soldiers would have died,” U.S. Attorney Barry Grissom said in a statement. “The investigators and the attorneys who worked on this case were our line of defense against terrorism. They kept us safe.”
However, an examination of Booker’s case reveals the usual patterns we see in terror cases involving the FBI. Booker was part of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (ROTC) program at his high school before being recruited by the U.S. Army in February 2014. Shortly after the FBI received a complaint that Booker had posted on Facebook about his intention to commit a jihadist suicide mission.
When the FBI called Booker in for an interview he admitted to enlisting the Army with plans to commit an attack against American soldiers similar to the attack committed by Major Nidal Hassan at Fort Hood, Texas. Booker claimed he was not going to kill “privates” but rather someone with power and status. So what did the FBI do with this information? They denied him entry to the military and let him go.
Rather than taking Booker into a hospital where he might get treatment for his violent fantasies the FBI began monitoring him, and in October 2014 sent in a FBI informant known as Confidential Human Source (CHS 1). Booker told CHS 1 he wanted to fight for Daesh and help bring the war home to America. CHS 1 introduced Booker to CHS 2 who he believed was a recruiter for Daesh. Booker claimed he was inspired by the man known as Jihadi Joe and wanted to carry out a suicide bomber mission using a truck bomb.
For several months CHS 1 and 2 worked with Booker in planning out this fake bombing. They drove him to nearby military airfields and bases to help him film propaganda videos where he pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, the purported leader of Daesh. In March 2015, CHS 1 told Booker he had been selected for a suicide mission. CHS 1 helped Booker acquire all the components he would need to make an improvised explosive device (IED).
On April 8, 2015, the components were moved to a second storage unit where CHS 2 was waiting. Booker circled potential targets on a map of Fort Riley and filmed another propaganda video in front of the materials that he believed were explosive. On April 10, 2015, Booker met with CHS 1 and 2 in a van that supposedly contained the IED. After driving to a gate that he believed would allow him to enter the base undetected, Booker was arrested while connecting the final pieces of the fake bomb.
One has to ask if Booker would have ever had the means to play terrorist and live out his deranged fantasies without the help of the FBI. We also must ask what would have happened if the FBI had intervened in the interest of Booker’s mental health rather than pursuing another conviction? Unfortunately, what ever really happened between Booker and the informants will likely never be made public due to the agreements of the plea deal.
According to court documents,
The defendant waives all rights, whether asserted directly or by a representative, to request or receive from any department or agency of the United States any records pertaining to the investigation or prosecution of this case, including, without limitation, any records that may be sought under the Freedom of Information Act.
Despite the secrecy, in recent years the FBI has caught much flak for their role in entrapment and the outright creation of so-called terrorists. A 2011 report by Mother Jones and the Investigative Reporting Program at the University of California-Berkley has shown that the FBI infiltrates communities where they suspect individuals who are “terrorist minded” to be engaging with others. In this program, the agents are sent into communities to converse and find suspects that could possibly carry out “lone wolf” attacks. The agents then set about encouraging them to plan an attack.
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