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US soldier arrested for sharing bomb-making instructions and discussing bombing TV station

The discussions in a Facebook group chat also mentioned targeting presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke.

Image: Shutterstock/flysnowfly

A US SOLDIER has been arrested after sharing bomb-making instructions and discussing bombing the headquarters of a national television network, the US Department of Justice said. 

Jarrett Smith (24) an army private assigned to Fort Riley in Kansas was charged in federal court in Topeka, Kansas, with one count of distributing information related to explosives, US Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a statement.

Along with sharing bomb-making instructions in a Facebook group chat, Smith discussed plans to attack a major TV news network using a car bomb and target members of the leftist group Antifa, the FBI said. The network was not identified in court documents.

Smith also expressed an interest in traveling to Ukraine to fight with a far-right paramilitary group there, the Azov Battalion, according to the FBI.

During his first court appearance on Monday, the magistrate ordered he remain in custody pending a detention hearing on Thursday.

His Facebook chats include conversations with another American who fought with a separate far right group in Ukraine from 2017-2019, the FBI said.

In an interview before his arrest, Smith told investigators he knows how to make improvised explosive devices and that he routinely provides instruction on building them.

He stated he did this to cause “chaos”. He said if chaos results in the death of people as a result of information he provided, it would not affect him, according to the complaint.

In one exchange on Friday with an FBI undercover agent on the encrypted messaging service Telegram, Smith discussed using various household chemicals and commonly available equipment to make a bomb.

“That’s the best way to fight people,” Smith is quoted in the complaint as writing. “Making AK-47s out of expensive parts is cool, but imagine [...] if you were going to Walmart instead of gun store to buy weapons.”

During that same exchange, Smith allegedly sent the agent instructions for building a “Middle East style bomb” that if big enough could destroy U.S. military vehicles. An FBI bomb technician later determined the specific instructions could have constructed a viable device.

Smith also suggested targeting Democrat party presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke during a conversation with an FBI undercover informant, the FBI said.

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O’Rourke’s campaign spokeswoman Aleigha Cavalier said they are grateful to the FBI for their diligence in handling this case and for their work to keep the country safe in the face of domestic terror threats.

“We take any threat like this very seriously, and our team is in direct contact with the FBI regarding this case,” Cavalier said. “This isn’t about any one person or one campaign, and we won’t let this scare us or cause us to back down in fighting for what’s right.”

According to the justice department, Smith joined the army in June 2017 and was stationed at Fort Riley since July 2019.

If convicted, Smith could face up to 20 years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.

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Associated Press

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