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Charges Say Soldier Passed Bomb Instructions Online

Suspect reportedly mentioned Beto O'Rourke as a target
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Sep 23, 2019 6:17 PM CDT
An honor guard stands at the entrance before ribbon cutting ceremonies for the new 1st Infantry Division Headquarters at Fort Riley, Kansas, in 2015. A soldier charged with sharing instructions on building...   (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner File)

(Newser) – Federal authorities said Monday that they charged a US Army soldier with sharing bomb-making instructions online, and that he discussed bombing an unidentified media organization and killing left-leaning activists. Jarrett William Smith, 24, a private first class from South Carolina stationed at Fort Riley, Kansas, was arrested Saturday, the AP reports. A criminal complaint says Smith discussed killing "antifa" activists and how to build a bomb that could be triggered by calling a cellphone. He listed Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'Rourke as a possible target, officials say. They accuse him of posting on Facebook that he was interested in fighting with a paramilitary group in Ukraine known as Azov Batallion. In an online chat group, Smith said he was looking for more "radicals" like himself, the complaint alleges, adding that he talked about destroying cell towers or a local news station.

In an interview before his arrest, Smith told investigators that he knows how to make improvised explosives devices and that he routinely provides instruction on building them. He stated he did this to cause "chaos." In an exchange Friday on the encrypted messaging service Telegram, an undercover FBI agent asked Smith if there was anyone in Texas who would be a good fit for "fire, destruction and death." Smith reportedly replied: "Outside of Beto? I don't know enough people that would be relevant enough to cause a change if they died." O'Rourke is a member of Congress from Texas. Smith was in court Monday, per NBC, and was ordered held until he appears in court Thursday in Topeka. If convicted, Smith could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

(Read more bomb plot stories.)

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