Topeka man sentenced to 30 years for Fort Riley bomb plot

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WASHINGTON — A Topeka man convicted of attempting to detonate a vehicle bomb at Fort Riley in Manhattan, Kan. has been sentenced to 30 years in prison.

John T. Booker

John T. Booker, 22, pleaded guilty on Feb. 3, 2016 to one count of attempted use of a weapon of mass destruction and one count of attempted destruction of government property by explosion.

Booker was sentenced on Monday morning to 30 years in prison.

“With this sentence, John Booker is being held accountable for his plan to kill U.S. military personnel on American soil in the name of ISIS,” Acting Assistant Attorney General Dana J. Boente said in a statement. “The National Security Division’s highest priority is countering terrorist threats and protecting American lives by bringing to justice those who plot to attack us. I want to thank the many agents, analysts, and prosecutors who made this result possible.”

“Violent extremism is a threat to America and all its people,” Acting U.S. Attorney Tom Beall said in a statement. “Our goal is to prevent violent extremists and their supporters from inspiring, financing or carrying out acts of violence.”

“The investigation leading to today’s sentencing illustrates the FBI’s commitment to disrupting acts of terrorism,” Darrin E. Jones with the FBI’s Kansas City Division said in a statement. “If Mr. Booker had been successful in detonating a car bomb, the results could have been dozens, if not hundreds, of casualties. The FBI and our law enforcement partners remain committed to protecting the citizens of the United States and thwarting acts of terrorism.”

Booker admitted in his guilty plea that intended to kill American soldiers in support of the Islamic State’s fight against the U.S.

Booker said he intended to detonate a bomb containing 1,000 pounds of ammonium nitrate, killing himself in the process. The Department of Justice said Booker made a video message to be released after his death.

“You sit in your homes and think this war is just over in Iraq,” Booker reportedly said in the video. “Today we will bring the Islamic State straight to your doorstep.”

However, Booker’s plot was thwarted before it even began. The FBI began investigating him in March 2014 after posting on Facebook that he wanted to engage in a war against the United States.

Booker had attempted to enlist in the U.S. Army in order to commit an insider attack like the one at Fort Hood in Texas, but he was denied entry. In October 2014, Booker began communicating with an undercover FBI informant.

In April 2015, after the undercover FBI informants supplied Booker with bomb materials (that were actually inert), they drove him to an area of Fort Riley where he intended to detonate the bomb. Instead, he was arrested.