Thwarted Ft. Riley suicide bomb plot offers insight into ISIS recruiting tactics

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The rise of ISIS recruitment using social media, a cult-like mentality and the need to belong to a bigger cause are all factors experts believe led a Kansas man to allegedly plot to detonate a bomb at the Fort Riley military base.

John T. Booker, a 20-year-old from Topeka, Kan., is now charged with attempting to set off a bomb on the base near Manhattan, Kan., as well as trying to provide material support to ISIS.

So how did a seemingly normal kid from Topeka grow up to become a man prosecutors say was plotting to kill American soldiers in the Heartland?

"We have to realize that there are people amongst us who can do this and it might be someone that we're very close to," said Michael Tabman, a retired FBI agent. "It might be a co-worker, a friend, a member of the family."

Tabman says the ISIS terror group has more access than ever to Americans thanks to social media, and they're using it to recruit young people who are looking to fill a void in their lives.

"It's the same kind of lure that a cult may have, organized crime may have, a gang may have," Tabman explained. "It's a need to feel some belonging, and some purpose in life and unfortunately some people find it in these terrorist callings."

So what should you look for to decipher if someone you know is becoming tangled in the teachings of a terror group?

"When we start getting outside the normal character of this person, and get almost obsessive interest in this violence," Tabman said, "or in bomb-making and start asking questions they never would've asked, those are the red flags. The problem is we never take them seriously."

But Tabman believes this recent suicide bomb plot at Fort Riley is proof we need to start taking it seriously because he thinks future threats are inevitable.

"Let's not walk around scared," Tabman said, "but let's walk around alert and go with the old axiom, see something, say something. Don't be afraid to either get this person some help, some intervention, or if you think someone is really dangerous call law enforcement and let them make the assessment."

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