The FBI has arrested a U.S. soldier who allegedly discussed plans to bomb a major American news network, planned to travel to Ukraine to fight with violent far-right group Azov Battalion and allegedly distributed information online on how to build bombs. He also allegedly suggested targeting Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke.
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Soldier of the Azov battalion patrolling close to a Ukrainian bombed position in Shyrokyne, Ukraine, July 22, 2015.
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According to charging documents in the case, Jarrett William Smith, who transferred to Fort Riley, Kansas, in July, joined the U.S. military only after first expressing his desire to fight in Ukraine.
On Aug. 19, 2019, Smith allegedly spoke with an FBI informant in an online chat group and discussed a plan for an attack inside the U.S., his search for more “radicals” like himself, and the possibility of killing members of the group Antifa.
In suggesting that the headquarters of the major news network could be a target, Smith allegedly said: “A large vehicle bomb. Fill a vehicle full of [explosives] then fill a ping pong ball with [commonly available chemical] via drilling then injection. Put the ball in the tank of the vehicle and leave. 30 minutes later, BOOM.”
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Then, in a Telegram conversation with an undercover FBI agent on Sept. 20, Smith allegedly had this exchange:
FBI: You got anyone down in Texas that would be a good fit for fire, destruction and death?
SMITH: Outside of Beto? I don’t know enough people that would be relevant enough to cause a change if they died.
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Democratic presidential candidate, former Rep. Beto ORourke (D-TX) speaks during the Democratic Polk County Steak Fry, Sept. 21, 2019, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Smith has allegedly been in communication with another American, Craig Lang, who traveled to Ukraine and fought with another far-right group, the Right Sector.
They were in contact since 2016. On Dec. 8, 2018, Smith allegedly led a group chat on Facebook with Lang that included discussing Smith’s ability to build bombs.
Smith allegedly said, “Oh yeah, I got knowledge of IEDs for days. We can make cell phone IEDs in the style of the Afghans. I can teach you that.”
Smith was arrested on Sept. 21, and he allegedly admitted to the FBI that he provides people online with instructions for building bombs.
According to charging documents, at least one of the instructions he allegedly provided in recent days would not have resulted in a viable explosive device.
He has been charged in Kansas with distributing information relating to weapons of mass destruction.